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Friday, January 25, 2013

God complex

 

Does a Cancer Diagnosis Influence Religiosity? Integrating a Life Course Perspective

Michael McFarland et al.
Social Science Research, March 2013, Pages 311-320

Abstract:
Based on a life course framework we propose that a cancer diagnosis is associated with increased religiosity and that this relationship is contingent upon three social clocks: cohort (1920-1945, 1946-1964, 1964+), age-at-diagnosis, and years-since-diagnosis. Using prospective data from the National Survey of Midlife Development (N= 3,443), collected in 1994-1995 and 2004-2006, we test these arguments. Results showed that a cancer diagnosis was associated with increased religiosity. Moreover, we found: (a) no evidence that the influence of cancer varies by cohort; (b) strong evidence that people diagnosed with cancer at earlier ages experienced the largest increases in religiosity; and (c) no evidence that changes in religiosity are influenced by years-since-diagnosis. Our study emphasizes how personal reactions to cancer partly reflect macro-level processes, represented by age-at-diagnosis, and shows that the religion-health connection can operate such that health influences religiosity. The study also highlights the sociological and psychological interplay that shapes people's religiosity.

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Judicial Biases in Ottoman Istanbul: Islamic Justice and Its Compatibility with Modern Economic Life

Timur Kuran & Scott Lustig
Journal of Law and Economics, August 2012, Pages 631-666

Abstract:
The transition to impersonal exchange and modern economic growth has depended on courts that enforce contracts efficiently. This article shows that Islamic courts of the Ottoman Empire exhibited biases that would have limited the expansion of trade in the eastern Mediterranean, particularly that between Muslims and non-Muslims. It thus explains why economic modernization in the Middle East involved the establishment of secular courts. In quantifying Ottoman judicial biases, the article discredits both the claim that these courts treated Christians and Jews fairly and the counterclaim that non-Muslims lost cases disproportionately. Biases against non-Muslims were in fact institutionalized. By the same token, non-Muslims did relatively well in adjudicated interfaith disputes, because they settled most conflicts out of court in anticipation of judicial biases. Islamic courts also appear to have favored state officials. The article undermines the Islamist claim that reinstituting Islamic law (sharia) would be economically beneficial.

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Demand for God and Government: The Dynamics of Religion and Public Opinion

Philip Habel & Tobin Grant
Politics and Religion, forthcoming

Abstract:
We explore the relationship between religiosity and public support for greater government services. We theorize that increases in religiosity and public opinion both reflect demands from citizens in the face of insecurity. We argue that religiosity is comprised of two factors: responses to insecurity; and long-held preferences for religion, or secularity. We show that previous studies that have observed increased religiosity leading to decreased support for government spending have not distinguished among religiosity as driven by secularity versus insecurity. To test our theory, we first estimate a series of simulations, and we then turn to the dynamics of aggregate religiosity and public opinion in the United States over the past fifty years, an environment where long-held preferences for religious goods have remained relatively stable. Consistent with our theory, religiosity and public opinion respond to insecurity; the series are positively correlated, move together through time, and react in similar ways to changes in GDP per capita. Our findings indicate that during times when there is greater insecurity, both religiosity and demand from government increase.

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The Psychological Benefits of Income are Contingent on Individual-Level and Culture-Level Religiosity

Jochen Gebauer et al.
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Higher income is related to better psychological adjustment. We propose that religiosity attenuates this relation. First, in comforting the poor, religious teachings de-emphasize the importance of money, which would buffer low-income's psychological harms (religiosity as poverty buffer account). Second, religious teachings convey antiwealth norms, which would reduce income's psychological benefits (religiosity as antiwealth norms account). A study involving 187,957 respondents from 11 religiously diverse cultures showed that individual-level, as well as culture-level, religiosity weakens the relation between personal income and psychological adjustment in accordance with the religiosity as antiwealth norms account. Performance self-esteem mediated this relation. Religiosity's moderating effects were so pervasive that religious individuals in religious cultures reported better psychological adjustment when their income was low than high.

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Competitive Religious Entrepreneurs: Christian Missionaries and Female Education in Colonial and Post-Colonial India

Tomila Lankina & Lullit Getachew
British Journal of Political Science, January 2013, Pages 103-131

Abstract:
This article explores the influence of Protestant missionaries on male-female educational inequalities in colonial India. Causal mechanisms drawn from the sociology and economics of religion highlight the importance of religious competition for the provision of public goods. Competition between religious and secular groups spurred missionaries to play a key role in the development of mass female schooling. A case study of Kerala illustrates this. The statistical analysis, with district-level datasets, covers colonial and post-colonial periods for most of India. Missionary effects are compared with those of British colonial rule, modernization, European presence, education expenditures, post-colonial democracy, Islam, caste and tribal status, and land tenure. Christian missionary activity is consistently associated with better female education outcomes in both the colonial and post-colonial periods.

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Ramadan, fasting and educational outcomes

Hessel Oosterbeek & Bas van der Klaauw
Economics of Education Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using a difference-in-differences framework, we estimate the impact of Ramadan on educational outcomes of Muslim students living in a non-Muslim country. For identification we exploit that the number of Ramadan weeks during the course that we study, varies from year to year, ranging from zero to four. Our main finding is that Ramadan observance has a negative impact on performance; one additional Ramadan week lowers the final grade of Muslim students by almost ten percent of a standard deviation.

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The Economics of Faith: Using an Apocalyptic Prophecy to Elicit Religious Beliefs in the Field

Ned Augenblick et al.
NBER Working Paper, December 2012

Abstract:
We model religious faith as a "demand for beliefs," following the logic of the Pascalian wager. We then demonstrate how an experimental intervention can exploit standard elicitation techniques to measure religious belief by varying prizes associated with making choices contrary to one's belief in a, crucially, falsifiable religious proposition. We implemented this approach with a group that expected the "End of the World" to happen on May 21, 2011 by offering prizes payable before and after May 21st. The results suggest the existence of a demand for extreme, sincere beliefs that was unresponsive to experimental manipulations in price.

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Religious Group Cues and Citizen Policy Attitudes in the United States

Todd Adkins et al.
Politics and Religion, forthcoming

Abstract:
The public opinion literature shows that cues about the policy positions of social groups influence citizens' political attitudes. We assess whether cues about religious groups' positions affect attitudes on three issues: protection of homosexuals in the workplace, improving the socio-economic conditions of African-Americans, and government-provided health insurance. We argue that such cues should shape issue attitudes and condition the impact of religious and political orientations on those attitudes. That should be especially true on issues closely connected to religion and for citizens with low levels of political awareness. We assess this argument with a survey experiment pitting pairs of religious groups on opposite sides of issues. We find that religious group cues matter primarily for cultural attitudes, among less politically-aware individuals, and for the religiously unaffiliated, Democrats, and liberals. The dominant effect is negative, moving these groups away from the positions of religious leaders and especially evangelical leaders.

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Friends in High Places: The Influence of Authoritarian and Benevolent God-Concepts on Social Attitudes and Behaviors

Kathryn Johnson et al.
Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, forthcoming

Abstract:
Religion is a powerful influence on social attitudes and behavior. Paradoxically, religion is correlated with both aggressive and prosocial tendencies. We argue that different concepts of God as authoritarian (controlling, commanding, punishing) or benevolent (helping, forgiving, protecting) play distinct, yet crucial, roles in leading people to behave either aggressively or prosocially. We provide new evidence among Catholics and non-Catholic Christians linking concepts of an authoritarian God with aggression and of a benevolent God with volunteerism and the willingness to aid religious outgroups. We also experimentally manipulate concepts of God and show that for non-Catholic Christians, reminders of a benevolent God increased the willingness to forgive while reminders of an authoritarian God increased aggression and decreased forgiveness, the willingness to conserve water, intentions to volunteer, and the willingness to aid religious outgroups. We conclude with a discussion of how God-concepts affect both positive and negative social behaviors.

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Spiritual attachment in Islam and Christianity: Similarities and differences

Maureen Miner et al.
Mental Health, Religion & Culture, forthcoming

Abstract:
Theory and measurement of attachment to God have largely been developed from a western Christian perspective. However, the relevance of the attachment construct for Muslims should be examined if it is to contribute to a greater understanding of Islamic spirituality and psychological health. In this paper, we explore similarities and differences between Islamic and Christian understandings of human-divine relationships. We consider evidence of a common core of attachment themes of relevance to both religions, and whether different dimensions are emphasised in religious writings of the two traditions. This theoretical work is foundational for cross-cultural/cross-religious research. We argue that a core difference between the two faiths is that Muslims approach God in a less direct, more mediated fashion than Christians. Such differences have important implications for the wording of self-report assessment items and approaches to interventions designed to increase the security of Christians' and Muslims' attachment to God and mental health.

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Restriction and Renewal, Pollution and Power, Constraint and Community: The Paradoxes of Religious Women's Experiences of Menstruation

Nicki Dunnavant & Tomi-Ann Roberts
Sex Roles, January 2013, Pages 121-131

Abstract:
Across cultures and historical time, menstruation has tended to be perceived as mysterious, dangerous and potentially contaminating. Most world religions place prohibitions on and prescribe codified purity rituals for menstruating women. We surveyed 340 religious and non-religious women from the Rocky Mountain West region of the United States regarding their attitudes and experiences of menstruation. We found that prescriptive religious women rated their periods as more bothersome, embarrassing, shameful, and endorsed more prohibitions, prescriptions and seclusion during menses compared to non-religious women. However, perhaps because their religions openly acknowledge menstruation, and their practice of rituals spotlights menstruation as a special time, religious women also identified a positive aspect of their menstrual cycles not shared by their non-religious counterparts. This was a heightened sense of community with other women. Further, women in committed relationships had more positive experiences of menstruation than single women, and this was especially true for women in prescriptive religions, despite a greater onus placed on them to observe menstrual rituals. This study complicates our understanding of how the practice of codified religious prohibitions and prescriptions around menstruation impacts women's experience.

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Eastern Religions and Attitude toward Direct Democracy in Taiwan

Wen-Chun Chang
Politics and Religion, December 2012, Pages 555-583

Abstract:
While direct democracy is a practical form of self-determination in the political process, the value system stemming from a given country's social and cultural factors has been argued to be critical in shaping citizens' preferences for a political institution. This article investigates the relationship between religion and the attitude toward direct democracy for the case of Taiwan, an East Asian country where most people are affiliated with Buddhism, Taoism, and folk religions. Unlike Western countries dominated by Judeo-Christianity, some arguments indicate that value systems emphasizing collectivities, social cohesion, and obedience to authorities in East Asian countries are inconsistent with the fundamental value of democratic norms based on individual rights and self-determination. If this is the case, then social and cultural factors are incompatible to democratic development in East Asian societies. Nevertheless, this argument has not been adequately supported by empirical studies. By using data from the Taiwan Social Change Survey 2004, the findings from this study suggest that affiliations with Buddhism, Taoism, and folk religions are positively associated with the agreement of using a referendum in political decision making. The ideological orientation stemming from these Eastern religions plays an important role in enhancing democratic values and the positive attitudes toward referendum.

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Daily Spiritual Experiences and Prosocial Behavior

Christopher Einolf
Social Indicators Research, January 2013, Pages 71-87

Abstract:
This paper examines how the Daily Spiritual Experiences Scale (DSES) relates to range of prosocial behaviors, using a large, nationally representative U.S. data set. It finds that daily spiritual experiences are a statistically and substantively significant predictor of volunteering, charitable giving, and helping individuals one knows personally. Daily spiritual experiences better predict helping to distant others than to friends and family, indicating that they may motivate helping by fostering an extensive definition of one's moral community. The relationship between the DSES and helping is not moderated by sympathy and is robust to the inclusion of most religiosity measures. However, the relationship becomes non-significant for most helping behaviors when measures of meditation, prayer, and mindfulness are included in a regression equation. The DSES is particularly effective in predicting helping behaviors among people who do not belong to a religious congregation, indicating that it may measure spiritual motivations for helping among people who are not conventionally religious.

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When Ingroups Aren't "In": Perceived Political Belief Similarity Moderates Religious Ingroup Favoritism

Carlee Beth Hawkins & Brian Nosek
PLoS ONE, December 2012

Abstract:
Motivated thinking leads people to perceive similarity between the self and ingroups, but under some conditions, people may recognize that personal beliefs are misaligned with the beliefs of ingroups. In two focal experiments and two replications, we find evidence that perceived belief similarity moderates ingroup favoritism. As part of a charity donation task, participants donated money to a community charity or a religious charity. Compared to non-religious people, Christians favored religious charities, but within Christians, conservative Christians favored religious charities more than liberal Christians did. Experiment 2 demonstrated that the perceived political beliefs of the charity accounted for the differences in ingroup favoritism between liberal and conservative Christians. While reporting little awareness of the influence of ideology, Christian conservatives favored religious charities because they perceived them as conservative and liberal Christians favored the community charity because they perceived it as liberal.

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Using Matching to Investigate the Relationship between Religion and Tolerance

Ryan Burge
Politics and Religion, forthcoming

Abstract:
Examining religion in the study of political behavior has produced varied results because of a lack of clarity on the conceptualization of religion and a methodology that cannot adequately untangle the multiple meanings of religion. Using the technique of propensity score matching, this work breaks apart the three B's in a number of analyses in order to properly understand how behavior, belief, and belonging impacts political tolerance. The results of this analysis indicate that a belief in biblical literalism decreases political tolerance, while church attendance often increases tolerance.

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Religion, networks, and neighborliness: The impact of religious social networks on civic engagement

Valerie Lewis, Carol Ann MacGregor & Robert Putnam
Social Science Research, March 2013, Pages 331-346

Abstract:
A substantial literature has found that religiosity is positively related to individuals' civic engagement and informal helping behavior. Concurrently, social networks as sources of information and encouragement have been suggested as the mechanism underlying phenomena including successful job searches, improved health and greater subjective well-being. In this paper we use data from the Portraits of American Life Study (PALS) to examine whether religiously based social networks explain the well-established relationship between religion and civic engagement. We test potential mechanisms including beliefs, affiliation, and social networks, and we find that having a strong network of religious friends explains the effect of church attendance for several civic and neighborly outcomes. We suggest this phenomenon may exist in other, non-religious, spheres that also produce strong friendship networks.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM