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In the back of your mind: Subliminal influences of religious concepts on prosocial behavior

Author

Listed:
  • Ahmed, Ali M.

    () (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University)

  • Salas, Osvaldo

    () (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University)

Abstract

Does religion enhance prosocial behavior? We investigate the ways in which implicit influences of religious concepts affect generosity and cooperation. In contrast to previous studies, we assess the direct impact of religion as an independent variable on prosocial behavior. We do so by subliminally priming participants with religious concepts in a scrambled sentence task before they play a dictator game and a prisoner’s dilemma game. We found that implicit priming of religious concepts significantly increased prosocial behavior in both games. This result was present among both religious and nonreligious participants. Selfreported measure of religiosity was related neither to generosity nor to cooperation.

Suggested Citation

  • Ahmed, Ali M. & Salas, Osvaldo, 2008. "In the back of your mind: Subliminal influences of religious concepts on prosocial behavior," Working Papers in Economics 331, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:gunwpe:0331
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2077/18838
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Ruffle, Bradley J. & Sosis, Richard, 2006. "Cooperation and the in-group-out-group bias: A field test on Israeli kibbutz members and city residents," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 60(2), pages 147-163, June.
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    3. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard H, 1986. "Fairness and the Assumptions of Economics," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(4), pages 285-300, October.
    4. Tan, Jonathan H.W., 2006. "Religion and social preferences: An experimental study," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 90(1), pages 60-67, January.
    5. Henry Kaiser, 1970. "A second generation little jiffy," Psychometrika, Springer;The Psychometric Society, pages 401-415.
    6. Ahmed, Ali M., 2007. "Group identity, social distance and intergroup bias," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, pages 324-337.
    7. Catherine C. Eckel & Philip J. Grossman, 2004. "Giving to Secular Causes by the Religious and Nonreligious: An Experimental Test of the Responsiveness of Giving to Subsidies," Monash Economics Working Papers archive-07, Monash University, Department of Economics.
    8. Li, Baibing & Martin, Elaine B. & Morris, A. Julian, 2002. "On principal component analysis in L1," Computational Statistics & Data Analysis, Elsevier, pages 471-474.
    9. Olof Johansson-Stenman & Minhaj Mahmud & Peter Martinsson, 2009. "Trust and Religion: Experimental Evidence from Rural Bangladesh," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 76(303), pages 462-485, July.
    10. Henry Kaiser, 1974. "An index of factorial simplicity," Psychometrika, Springer;The Psychometric Society, pages 31-36.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. The Adam Smith Institute, Business Ethics, and the Ayn Rand Lecture
      by andrewdsmith in The Past Speaks on 2012-06-24 01:01:30

    More about this item

    Keywords

    religion; priming; dictator game; prisoner’s dilemma game;

    JEL classification:

    • C90 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - General
    • Z12 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Religion
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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