For all the non-atheists out there: Do you believe in the God of the Old Testament or the New Testament? A vengeful God who must be feared or a loving God who wants what’s best for you?
According to psychology researchers Azim F. Shariff (University of Oregon) and Ara Norenzayan (University of British Columbia), your answers to those questions could tell us whether or not you’re likely to cheat on a test.
“Taken together, our findings demonstrate, at least in some preliminary way, that religious beliefs do have an effect on moral behavior, but what matters more than whether you believe in a God is what kind of God you believe in,” Shariff said. “There is a relationship: Believing in a mean God, a punishing one, does contribute to non-cheating behavior. Believing in a loving, forgiving God seems to have an opposite effect.”
No differences in cheating were found between self-described believers in God and non-believers. However, students who specifically perceived God as punitive, angry and vengeful showed significantly lower levels of cheating.
Others can be the judge of whether this study was carried out properly, but superficially, anyway, I’m not surprised.
Non-religious people are no less moral than religious people. We all know that.
But if you fear that a god is watching every single thing you do, you may very well force yourself to “act right.”
If you need that image in your head to do the right thing, maybe it’s good that you’re a believer… Meanwhile, the rest of us can try do the moral thing because that’s just the kind of society we want to live in.
I should also note that the subjects in this particular study took a math test. And there’s no need to ever cheat on a math test.
GOT THAT, STUDENTS?!
(Thanks to Sean for the link!)