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Religious Prosociality and Aggression: It's Real


  • Note: This work benefited from Grant ARC 08/13–013 from the Communauté Française de Belgique.

Correspondence should be addressed to Vassilis Saroglou, Department of Psychology, Université Catholique de Louvain, Place du Cardinal Mercier 10, 1348 Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium. E-mail:


Individual religiosity relates to prosocial attitudes, behavioral intentions, and behaviors of minimal (no/low cost; limited to in-group members) prosociality in hypothetical situations. Yet evidence on religious prosociality through other-oriented, costly helping behavior in real life is still to be documented. Similarly, religiosity relates to cognitive, emotional, and attitudinal components of prejudice toward moral out-groups. Evidence on real behavior of prejudice is nevertheless still needed. In two experiments using the same measure of religiosity and samples from the same population, religiosity predicted helping, in a real-life context, of an in-group member in need (Experiment 1) as well as overt and direct aggression by means of allocating hot sauce to a gay, but not to a neutral, target (Experiment 2). Religious prosociality and aggression are real, concern distinct kinds of targets, and are at the heart of personal religiosity.