"the Sunday effect" (religion is more in the situation than in the person)

Discussion in 'Belief and Spirituality' started by Jane-Q, Sep 28, 2014.

  1. Jane-Q

    Jane-Q ...pain...

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    I've run across some interesting (and rather revealing) scientific studies, recently:

    They look at religious ("church-going") individuals versus nonreligious ("non-church-going") individuals.

    In a carefully controlled study by Deepak Malhotra, relative "generosity" was looked at. Which group would you suspect as being the most generous? Religious or nonreligious?
    In a different study by Benjamin Edelman, the amount of Internet "porn" consumed by each study group was measured. Which group would you suspect scored higher? Religious or nonreligious?

    It is a kind of measure of religious virtue (where you'd expect religious individuals to score higher, on the generosity scale) and of religious sin (where you would expect religious individuals to consume far less porn).

    Here is the surprise:
    In both studies - generosity and porn - it was a statistical dead-heat between religious individuals and nonreligious individuals. They were equally generous and they consumed an equal amount of porn.

    (These studies focused largely on Christian populations. But similar studies - by Erik Duhaime focusing on Moslem shopkeepers in Morocco and by Dimitris Xygalatas focusing on Hindus in Mauritius - came up with similar results.)

    What is surprising, too, about all of these studies is what has been called "the Sunday effect."

    Religious Christians were far more generous than nonreligious individuals on Sundays. And on Sundays, the religious persons consumed far less porn. But this same group was slightly less generous than the nonreligious and also consumed slightly more porn, Monday through Saturday.
    (The Moslems were more generous during the call to prayer. The Hindus more generous when meeting in a temple versus meeting in a restaurant.)

    It is kind of the case, with religious folk . . . when God is out of sight, God is out of mind.
    Religious folk betray "religious behavior" only in situations where they think "God is watching."
    (i.e. When they are religiously "primed" - to use the jargon-word employed by psychologists doing these studies.)
    This is "the Sunday effect," and it appears to cut-across all religions.

    Ara Norenzayan sums it up this way:
    Religion is more in the situation than in the person. . .
    The temporary salience of religious norms is a key driver of prosocial behavior, often more important than "religiosity" . . .
    Believers have to think of God and His omniscience at any given moment if that belief is to have an impact on their actions.
    --Big Gods: How Religion Transformed Cooperation and Conflict, p39-41.
    Historically, belief in Big Gods - Norenzayan argues - promotes "prosocial behavior" in communities of people. As opposed to selfish/self-interested behavior. To him this is a - if not the - major role of religion in human affective development. In the growing moral conscience of humanity through the ages.
    i.e. Religion matters.

    But all people everywhere are, most of the time, caught-up in their own secular/sectarian world. People grow emotionally and morally (i.e. socially) only in those moments when they are "primed." That is why religious days on the calendar, and religious buildings, and religious rituals . . . matter.

    This is when a person is at their most prosocial.
    This is when the world is most able to change . . . toward something better.

    This is when a person's action comes closest . . . to that of God.

    Jane.

     
  2. Gordian Knot

    Gordian Knot Being Deviant IS My Art.

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    Here is the surprise:
    In both studies - generosity and porn - it was a statistical dead-heat between religious individuals and nonreligious individuals. They were equally generous and they consumed an equal amount of porn.


    No real surprise. At least from my experience of the world. Religious people are just as likely to have an extramarital affair as nonreligious folks as well.

    People is people. What a concept!
     
  3. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    They frown on me watching porn during church....
     

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