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Do religious contexts elicit more trust and altruism? An experiment on Facebook

Listed author(s):
  • Bradley J. Ruffle

    ()

    (Department of Economics, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev)

  • Richard Sosis

    (Department of Anthropology, University of Connecticut)

We design a decision-making scenario experiment on Facebook to measure subjects’ altruism and trust toward attendees of a religious service, a fitness class and a local music performance. Secular and religious subjects alike display significantly more altruism and trust toward the synagogue attendees than participants at the other two venues. By all measures of religiosity, even the most secular subjects behave more prosocially in the religious venue than in the comparable non-religious settings. We also find that secular subjects are just as altruistic toward synagogue and prayer group members as religious subjects are. These findings support recent theories that emphasize the pivotal role of religious context in arousing high levels of prosociality among those who are religious. Finally, our results offer startlingly little evidence for the widely documented religious-secular divide in Israel.

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File URL: http://in.bgu.ac.il/en/humsos/Econ/Working/1002.pdf
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Paper provided by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 1002.

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Length: 31 pages
Date of creation: 2010
Handle: RePEc:bgu:wpaper:1002
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