Do religious cognitions promote prosociality?

Journal Article

Researchers have long argued that religion increases prosocial behavior, but results are equivocal. Recent findings on priming religious concepts seem to show that religion drives other-regarding behaviors. However, here I suggest that some religious concepts may not only be priming religion, but also anticipated rewards. I present the results of a new experiment that primes reward-related and reward-unrelated religious or secular concepts. Results show that priming reward-related concepts positively impacts prosocial behavior (specifically, generosity), regardless of their religious content. Religious cognitions alone are not sufficient to elicit generosity: reward cognitions must be present as well.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Harrell, A

Published Date

  • November 2012

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 24 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 463 - 482

Published By

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1461-7358

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1043-4631

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1177/1043463112463930


  • en