Date of Award

1-1-2010

Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Department

Sociology

First Advisor

Brent T. Simpson

Abstract

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 prosociality. But here I suggest that these studies confound religion with 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, regardless of their religious content. Religious cognitions alone are not sufficient to elicit prosocial behavior; reward cognitions must be present as well.

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