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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Pray on it

 

Themes of Self-Regulation and Self-Exploration in the Life Stories of Religious American Conservatives and Liberals

Dan McAdams, Kathrin Hanek & Joseph Dadabo
Political Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
A sample of 128 highly religious (Christian) midlife American adults completed a series of attitudinal and personality trait measures and narrated 12 important autobiographical scenes in their life stories. Individuals high on self-reported political conservatism tended to accentuate the theme of self-regulation in their life stories, repeatedly describing important autobiographical scenes wherein they struggled to control, discipline, manage, restrain, protect, or preserve the self. By contrast, individuals high on political liberalism tended to emphasize the theme of self-exploration, telling stories about expanding, discovering, articulating, or fulfilling the self. Demographics and dispositional traits (especially openness to experience) showed significant associations with conservatism-liberalism, as well, but these variables did not mitigate the robust relationship between life-narrative themes and political orientation. The results are discussed in terms of a broadened understanding of personality that conceives of dispositional traits and narrative identity as comprising distinct layers and complementary features of psychological individuality, both implicated in political lives.

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Evidence for a role of death thought in American attitudes toward symbols of Islam

Florette Cohen et al.
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Four studies were conducted to examine how concerns about mortality contribute to Americans' negative attitudes and behavior toward symbols of Islam. Study 1 found that a subtle reminder of death decreased support for the Ground Zero mosque, and increased the distance from Ground Zero people felt was appropriate for a mosque to be built. Study 2 found that asking people to think about a mosque being built in their neighborhood increased the accessibility of implicit death thoughts. Study 3 replicated the results of Study 2 and showed that thinking of a church or synagogue did not produce the same effect as thinking of a mosque. Study 4 found that heightened death thought accessibility in response to a mortality salience induction was eliminated when participants read a newspaper account of the desecration of the Quran.

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Politics, Religion, and Society: Is the United States Experiencing a Period of Religious-Political Polarization?

Thomas Hirschl et al.
Review of European Studies, September 2012, Pages 95-109

Abstract:
This study investigates the effect of religious identity on U.S. Presidential voter choice in order to determine whether this relationship changed over time. The research literature is divided on this question with several investigators finding a positive trend in religious-political polarization since 1980, and others finding no polarization. The study further addresses a putative link between social inequality and religious politics by identifying the race, class, and gender location of religiously influenced voters, using multiple cross sections from the General Social Survey to empirically model Presidential voting over the period 1980 to 2008. The findings demonstrate that religious identity influenced voter choice, and that this influence increased significantly and substantially across the study period. Second, that upper class whites are the source of religious partisan polarity, and upper class whites became more polarized over the period 1980 to 2008. The effect of gender on partisanship is less pronounced, and overshadowed by social class and religious identity. The study findings demonstrate that religiously influenced Presidential voting reflects the political behavior of a relatively privileged component of the electorate.

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Trade and Geography in the Origins and Spread of Islam

Stelios Michalopoulos, Alireza Naghavi & Giovanni Prarolo
NBER Working Paper, October 2012

Abstract:
This research examines the economic origins and spread of Islam in the Old World and uncovers two empirical regularities. First, Muslim countries and ethnic groups exhibit highly unequal regional agricultural endowments. Second, Muslim adherence is systematically higher along the pre-Islamic trade routes. We discuss the possible mechanisms that may give rise to the observed pattern and provide a simple theoretical argument that highlights the interplay between an unequal geography and proximity to lucrative trade routes. We argue that these elements exacerbated inequalities across diverse tribal societies producing a conflictual environment that had the potential to disrupt trade flows. Any credible movement attempting to centralize these heterogeneous populations had to offer moral and economic rules addressing the underlying economic inequalities. Islam was such a movement. In line with this conjecture, we utilize anthropological information on pre-colonial traits of African ethnicities and show that Muslim groups have distinct economic, political, and societal arrangements featuring a subsistence pattern skewed towards animal husbandry, more equitable inheritance rules, and more politically centralized societies with a strong belief in a moralizing God.

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Religion, income inequality, and the size of the government

Ceyhun Elgin et al.
Economic Modelling, January 2013, Pages 225-234

Abstract:
Recent empirical research has demonstrated that countries with higher levels of religiosity are characterized by greater income inequality. We argue that this is due to the lower level of government services demanded in more religious countries. Religion motivates individuals to engage in charitable giving and this leads them to prefer making their contributions privately and voluntarily rather than through the state. To the extent that citizen preferences are reflected in policy outcomes, religiosity results in lower levels of taxes and hence lower levels of spending on both public goods and redistribution. Since measures of income typically do not fully take into account private transfers received, this increases measured income inequality. We formalize these ideas in a general equilibrium political economy model and also show that the implications of our model are supported by cross-country data.

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Marital Fertility and Income: Moderating Effects of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Religion in Utah

Joseph Stanford & Ken Smith
Journal of Biosocial Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Utah has the highest total fertility of any state in the United States and also the highest proportion of population affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the LDS or Mormon Church). Data were used from the 1996 Utah Health Status Survey to investigate how annual household income, education and affiliation with the LDS Church affect fertility (children ever born) for married women in Utah. Younger age and higher education were negatively correlated with fertility in the sample as a whole and among non-LDS respondents. Income was negatively associated with fertility among non-LDS respondents. However, income was positively correlated with fertility among LDS respondents. This association persisted when instrumental variables were used to address the potential simultaneous equations bias arising from the potential endogeneity of income and fertility. The LDS religion's pronatalist stance probably encourages childbearing among those with higher income.

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Paranormal and Religious Believers Are More Prone to Illusory Face Perception than Skeptics and Non-believers

Tapani Riekki et al.
Applied Cognitive Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Illusory face perception, a tendency to find human-like faces where none are actually present in, for example, artifacts or scenery, is a common phenomenon that occasionally enters the public eye. We used two tests (N = 47) to analyze the relationship between paranormal and religious beliefs and illusory face perception. In a detection task, the participants detected face-like features from pictures of scenery and landscapes with and without face-like areas and, in a rating task, evaluated the face-likeness and emotionality of these areas. Believer groups were better at identifying the previously defined face-like regions in the images but were also prone to false alarms. Signal detection analysis revealed that believers had more liberal answering criteria than skeptics, but the actual detection sensitivity did not differ. The paranormal believers also evaluated the artifact faces as more face-like and emotional than the skeptics, and a similar trend was found between religious and non-religious people.

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Institutional Selection for Conformity: The Case of U.S. Catholic Priests

Paul Sullins
Sociology of Religion, forthcoming

Abstract:
The declining dissent among Catholic clergy since the 1970s has consistently been attributed to cohort replacement, indicated by age differences, as a result of changes in Catholic religious culture, despite a recognition in recent sociology of religion of the importance of institutional agency. I test (1) whether changes in priest's beliefs and values are due to cultural trends (indicated by birth cohort) or institutional selection (indicated by ordination cohort); and (2) whether they are related to liberalism/conservatism generally or to specific conformity to Catholic moral positions. Data are from the 2002 Los Angeles Times priest survey (N = 1,854). Results are mixed: I find support for the thesis of institutional selection for conformity since 1969, but not before. Prior to the 1960s, clergy (and lay) Catholic dissent increased linearly by birth cohort; since 1969, institutional selection, not cultural change, accounts for declining clergy dissent (while lay dissent has continued to increase). Implications for understanding changes in the Catholic Church and for religious theory are discussed.

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Religion and positive well-being among Israeli and diaspora Jews: Findings from the World Values Survey

Jeff Levin
Mental Health, Religion & Culture, August 2012, Pages 709-720

Abstract:
This study investigates the impact of selected religious indicators on two measures of positive well-being among Jews. Using data from subsamples of Jewish respondents from Israel (N = 1,023) and the diaspora (N = 859) taken from the World Values Survey, single-item measures of happiness and life satisfaction were regressed onto six measures of religiousness in the diaspora sample and onto the one religious measure available in the Israeli sample, adjusting for effects of age, gender, marital status, education, employment, and social class. Among Israeli Jews, affirming the importance of God in one's life is modestly associated with greater life satisfaction (β = 0.07, p < 0.05), but not with happiness. In the diaspora, the same measure is associated with greater happiness (β = 0.13, p < 0.01), as is more frequent attendance at synagogue services (β = 0.14, p < 0.01), but neither is associated with life satisfaction.

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Socioeconomic value of religion and the impacts of ideological change in China

Shixiong Cao
Economic Modelling, November 2012, Pages 2621-2626

Abstract:
Ideology is a primary factor that influences socioeconomic development and social stability, particularly in rapidly changing developing countries such as China. To understand the socioeconomic value of ideology during China's recent history, and the impacts of ideological change, I evaluated the potential links with socioeconomic development by presenting a historical perspective on the changing Chinese ideology. Since the People's Republic of China was founded in 1949, China has followed a bumpy road created by the contradiction between official government atheism, the lack of an ideology with a strong ethical grounding, and the desire of many people to believe in a higher power (i.e., a divinity). This contradiction may have increased social transaction costs, decreased social stability and economic efficiency, and damaged environmental conservation. Although China has experienced an extraordinary economic boom in the past three decades, the socioeconomic system may be more fragile than is commonly believed because it has been undermined by this ideological confusion. To promote sustainable socioeconomic development, China's government, scientists, and citizens should seek a new ideology that accommodates the desire for more religious freedom by promoting prosocial institutional reform.

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Does the Economic Cycle Change Our Prayers? A Discussion Based on Catholic Bulletins

Paulo Reis Mourao
Kyklos, November 2012, Pages 563-580

Abstract:
Does the economy influence the focus of believers' prayers and their publicly acknowledged graces? This paper offers some preliminary answers to this question. Using cointegration analyses on Catholic bulletins, we found that the composition of published graces varies according to the economic cycle - a higher unemployment rate, a lower real GDP growth rate and electoral periods lead to a higher number of graces focused on economic issues (as opposed to graces motivated by other concerns, such as health). These results contribute to the literature by providing evidence that the economic cycle also influences believers' prayers and publicly acknowledged graces.

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Evangelical Elites' Changing Responses to Homosexuality 1960-2009

Jeremy Thomas & Daniel Olson
Sociology of Religion, Autumn 2012, Pages 239-272

Abstract:
Although popular culture war depictions have often presented evangelical elites as intransigent in their opposition to homosexuality, we find that during the last several decades, evangelical elites have actually been subtly but significantly changing their moral reasoning about homosexuality. Based on content analysis of the popular evangelical magazine Christianity Today, we identify the shifts that compose this change, and we propose that various combinations of these shifts align with and map onto four overarching responses to homosexuality. We suggest that the development of these responses demonstrates a trajectory of change that portends the increasing liberalization of evangelical elites' positions and attitudes on public policy debates related to homosexuality. We argue that these changing responses are largely the result of underlying shifts in the sources of moral authority to which evangelical elites have been appealing when making arguments about homosexuality.

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American on-line atheists and psychological type

Matthew Baker & Mandy Robbins
Mental Health, Religion & Culture, December 2012, Pages 1077-1084

Abstract:
A sample of 10,627 American atheists (7763 males and 2864 females) completed the Francis Psychological-Type Scales as part of the Personality and Belief in God Survey on-line. Compared with USA population norms, both male and female atheists displayed significantly higher levels of preference for introversion, thinking, and judging. The two predominant types among female atheists were ISTJ (40.8%) and INTJ (11.7%), compared with 6.9% and 0.8% respectively in the wider population. The two predominant types among male atheists were also ISTJ (41.4%) and INTJ (14.4%), compared with 16.4% and 3.3% respectively in the wider population. These large over-representations suggest that certain psychological types are much more likely to embrace atheism than others. Additional research is needed in order to test this hypothesis further.

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The Development of Reasoning about Beliefs: Fact, Preference, and Ideology

Larisa Heiphetz et al.
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
The beliefs people hold about the social and physical world are central to self-definition and social interaction. The current research analyzes reasoning about three kinds of beliefs: those that concern matters of fact (e.g., dinosaurs are extinct), preference (e.g., green is the prettiest color), and ideology (e.g., there is only one God). The domain of ideology is of unique interest because it is hypothesized to contain elements of both facts and preferences. If adults' distinct reasoning about ideological beliefs is the result of prolonged experience with the physical and social world, children and adults should reveal distinct patterns of differentiating kinds of beliefs, and this difference should be particularly pronounced with respect to ideological beliefs. On the other hand, if adults' reasoning about beliefs is a basic component of social cognition, children and adults should demonstrate similar belief representations and patterns of belief differentiation. Two experiments demonstrate that 5-10 year old children and adults similarly judged religious beliefs to be intermediate between factual beliefs (where two disagreeing people cannot both be right) and preferences (where they can). From the age of 5 years and continuing into adulthood, individuals distinguished ideological beliefs from other types of mental states and demonstrated limited tolerance for belief-based disagreements.

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Religiosity and Social Network Diversity: Decomposing the "Divided by Faith" Theoretical Framework

Jeremy Porter & Michael Emerson
Social Science Quarterly, forthcoming

Objectives: Our objective is to extend previous structural explanations of religious belonging and denominational variations concerning "closed communities" and the "divided by faith" thesis to the individual level by testing the effect of religious affiliation and church membership on levels of self-reported social network diversity among a nationally representative sample.

Methods: Survey data from the Panel Study-American Religion and Ethnicity (PS-ARE) were used to examine individual-level variations in social network diversity. A multifaceted measure of diversity was decomposed to examine racial, gender, educational, and occupational variations in network diversity using a series of hierarchical linear models.

Results: Our results show that while previous structural explanations suggest that religious belonging is likely to lower the diversity of one's close social network at the individual level, the current findings indicate a positive relationship between religious membership and the diversity of one's close friendship network above and beyond the effects of denominational affiliation.

Conclusions: The results of the decomposition component analyses along with the hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) strategy highlight the relatively distinct role of race in understanding the differing dynamics associated with the many indicators of diversity and religious belonging.

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Votes and Votive Candles: Modernization, Secularization, Vatican II, and the Decline of Religious Voting in Italy: 1953-1992

Piero Ignazi & Spencer Wellhofer
Comparative Political Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
The authors examine the effects of modernization and secularization on the vote for the religious party in the Italian First Republic (1948-1992). In addition to modernization and secularization, they also introduce two new factors to the analysis: the importance of the institutionalized Church and effects of the Church's Vatican II reforms. Italy is of particular relevance because of the centrality of the Catholic religion in Italian society and politics, and the domination of the religious party - the Christian Democracy (Democrazia Cristiana; DC) - in the country's party system until 1992. The authors analyze the impact on the DC vote of a series of indicators of modernization and secularization and of Church organization and reform. The uniqueness of the analysis rests on the exceptionally detailed and historical data for the Italian community (N = 6,140) across this time period and the use of advanced quantitative techniques. The analysis confirms the traditional interpretation of secularization but also stresses effects of the failure of the Church's reforms of Vatican II. These reforms, which deemphasized the institutionalized Church in favor of a more individualized, spiritual view, were intended as a response to modernization. Instead, the reforms hastened the decline of affiliated organizations and the religious party.

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Save us from "Save Our State": Anti-Sharia legislative efforts across the United States and their impact

Lee Ann Bambach
Journal of Islamic Law and Culture, April 2011, Pages 72-88

Abstract:
This article examines the impact of anti-Sharia legislation in the United States. It discusses what sharia law is generally, noting that particular applications and interpretations will vary depending upon jurisdiction and location, and looks specifically at the contexts in which sharia is observed in the US and considered by US courts. It examines two different types of anti-sharia legislation - sharia-specific and facially neutral - concluding that some of such laws and bills are unconstitutional, many are unwise because they can negatively impact businesses and the enforcement of US laws and judgments overseas, and all are unnecessary because the US legal system already possesses the necessary tools to block any use of sharia that would violate a party's constitutional right or violate public policy. The article concludes by noting that although anti-sharia legislation and the supporters of such legislation tend to equate sharia observance with dangerous and anti-American tendencies, the debate over such legislation is a prime example of how Muslims in the US are in fact actively engaging and working within the US political and legal systems.

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Associations between religiosity, mental health, and subjective well-being among Arabic samples from Egypt and Kuwait

Ahmed Abdel-Khalek
Mental Health, Religion & Culture, September 2012, Pages 741-758

Abstract:
Two samples of Egyptian (n = 577) and Kuwaiti (n = 674) college students recruited to (a) explore the sex-and country differences in religiosity, mental health, and subjective well-being, (b) estimate the associations between and factors from the last-mentioned variables, and (c) explore the predictors of religiosity. The participants completed the Arabic Scale of Mental Health, the Rosenberg Self-esteem Scale and five self-rating scales to assess religiosity, physical health, mental health, happiness, and satisfaction with life. Egyptian and Kuwaiti men obtained significantly higher mean scores than did their female counterparts. Kuwaiti men and women had significantly higher mean scores on all the scales than their Egyptian counterparts. All the correlations between the scales were significant and positive. A highly loaded factor was identified and labelled Mental health, well-being and religiosity. Stepwise regression indicated that the main predictors of religiosity were self-esteem, happiness, satisfaction and mental health in different combinations.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM