NCBI ROFL: Reminders of secular authority reduce believers' distrust of atheists.

By ncbi rofl | April 24, 2012 7:00 pm

“Atheists have long been distrusted, in part because they do not believe that a watchful, judging god monitors their behavior. However, in many parts of the world, secular institutions such as police, judges, and courts are also potent sources of social monitoring that encourage prosocial behavior. Reminders of such secular authority could therefore reduce believers’ distrust of atheists. In our experiments, participants who watched a video about police effectiveness (Experiment 1) or were subtly primed with secular-authority concepts (Experiments 2-3) expressed less distrust of atheists than did participants who watched a control video or were not primed, respectively. We tested three distinct alternative explanations for these findings. Compared with control participants, participants primed with secular-authority concepts did not exhibit reduced general prejudice against out-groups (Experiment 1), prejudice reactions associated with functional threats that particular out-groups are perceived to pose (specifically, viewing gays with disgust; Experiment 2), or general distrust of out-groups (Experiment 3). These findings contribute to theory regarding both the psychological bases of prejudices and the psychological functions served by gods and governments.”

Photo: flickr/loop_oh

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  • +++

    Of course, Morpheus could have told you that.

  • David Tiffany

    Atheists do believe God is watching them.

    • Ben Sweatervest Blanchard

      No, we dont…. We dont believe that god exists at all…. 


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NCBI ROFL is the brainchild of two Molecular and Cell Biology graduate students at UC Berkeley and features real research articles from the PubMed database (which is housed by the National Center for Biotechnology information, aka NCBI) that they find amusing (ROFL is a commonly-used internet acronym for "rolling on the floor, laughing"). Follow us on twitter: @ncbirofl


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