Religious motivations for cooperation : An experimental investigation using explicit primes

Journal article


Rand, David G., Dreber, Anna, Haque, Omar S., Kane, Rob J., Nowak, Martin A. and Coakley, Sarah. (2014). Religious motivations for cooperation : An experimental investigation using explicit primes. Religion, Brain and Behavior. 4(1), pp. 31-48. https://doi.org/10.1080/2153599X.2013.775664
AuthorsRand, David G., Dreber, Anna, Haque, Omar S., Kane, Rob J., Nowak, Martin A. and Coakley, Sarah
Abstract

The role of religion in human cooperation remains a highly contested topic. Recent studies using economic game experiments to explore this issue have been largely inconclusive, yielding a range of conflicting results. In this study, we investigate the ability of religion to promote cooperation by using explicit theological primes. In the first study, conducted in a church, we find that subjects who report a stronger connection with a Christian passage about charitable giving are subsequently more likely to cooperate in a one-shot prisoner's dilemma game. In the second study, conducted over the Internet, we find that Christian subjects are more likely to cooperate after reading a Christian passage than a neutral one. However, in the same study, we find that Hindu and secular passages have no significant effect on Christians, and that none of the passages (Christian, Hindu, or secular) have an effect on non-Christians. Our results show the potential power of explicitly religious exhortations that promote cooperation, and also their selectivity.

Keywordsprisoner’s dilemma; prosociality; religiosity; theological priming
Year2014
JournalReligion, Brain and Behavior
Journal citation4 (1), pp. 31-48
PublisherRoutledge
ISSN2153-599X
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1080/2153599X.2013.775664
Scopus EID2-s2.0-84901772717
Research or scholarlyResearch
Page range31-48
Publisher's version
License
All rights reserved
File Access Level
Controlled
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online03 Apr 2013
Publication process dates
Deposited17 Aug 2021
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