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 Topic: Belief in an angry God is the strongest predictor of a country’s crime rate

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  • Belief in an angry God is the strongest predictor of a country’s crime rate
     OP - June 21, 2012, 01:52 PM

    From a new American study

    Quote
    When it comes to predicting a country's crime rate, sociologists typically look at such factors as income inequality and GDP. But new research suggests that a better place to look might be inside the religious beliefs of the population — or more accurately, their belief in Hell and the prospect of eternal damnation.

    Religion is typically seen as a psychological defense against bad behavior, and even a form of social control. But as researchers from the University of Oregon recently learned, these beliefs can also translate to prosocial behaviors. It's often thought that "religious values" are what drives religious people to be good – but it turns out that it's the fear of punishment that's causing them to exhibit virtuous behavior.

    This conclusion, which was reached by Azim Shariff and Mijke Rhemtulla, was made after a thorough investigation involving over 25 years of data that consisted of 143,197 people in 67 countries. What they discovered was that significantly lower crime rates could be found in societies where many people believed in Hell compared to those where more people believed in Heaven.

    What they also discovered what that these effects still stood once they accounted for other factors like economic and social well-being. The Heaven/Hell dichotomy within societies proved to be a more accurate way of assessing a country's potential for crime than the usual suspects. And fascinatingly, the difference had to do with the very nature of God's personality.

    As an example, the researchers discovered that university students with stronger beliefs in God's punitive and angry nature tended to be the least likely to cheat on an academic task. But stronger belief in God's comforting and forgiving nature significantly predicted higher levels of cheating.

    In terms of explanation, the researchers theorized that it has to do with an individual's take on the supernatural. From the Shariff and Rhemtulla paper:

        This pattern of results is consistent with theories highlighting the effectiveness of supernatural punishment–specifically–at regulating moral behavior and, as a result, group cooperation. These theories argue that human punishment is a highly effective deterrent to anti-social behavior within groups, but one that faces inevitable limitations of scale. Human monitors cannot see all transgressions, human judgers cannot adjudicate with perfect precision, and human punishers are neither able to apprehend every transgressor, nor escape the potential dangers of retribution. Divine punishment, on the other hand, has emerged as a cultural tool to overcome a number of those limitations. Unlike humans, divine punishers can be omniscient, omnipotent, infallible, and untouchable-and therefore able to effectively deter transgressors who may for whatever reason be undeterred by earthly policing systems.

    In other words, belief in a forgiving and kind God is typically used by people as a loophole, or excuse for bad behaviors. Belief in an omniscient and angry God, on the other hand, doesn't allow for that.

    Looking ahead, the researchers are hoping to get a better understanding of how religion and prosocial behaviors translate to larger and more wide scale societal effects.

    You can read the entire study at PLoS.

    Via Medical Daily. Image via Shutterstock/Jag_cz.


    http://io9.com/5919873/belief-in-an-angry-god-is-the-strongest-predictor-of-a-countrys-crime-rate

    "Beauty is truth, truth beauty," - that is all
            Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

    - John Keats
  • Re: Belief in an angry God is the strongest predictor of a country’s crime rate
     Reply #1 - June 21, 2012, 02:28 PM

    That also ties into the idea that people are hardwired to fear loss more than they appreciate gain. IIRC, humans are hardwired to think of a loss as being 4 times worse than a gain - so for example, if I offer you a 50% chance of gaining or losing, the gain needs to be $4 to be "equal" to a loss of $1.

  • Re: Belief in an angry God is the strongest predictor of a country’s crime rate
     Reply #2 - June 21, 2012, 03:45 PM

    I think this might be bollocks.  Scandinavia has very low crime rates and very low rates of belief in gods.  US has huge crime rates and high rates of belief in gods.

    When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.


    ― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
  • Re: Belief in an angry God is the strongest predictor of a country?s crime rate
     Reply #3 - June 21, 2012, 03:48 PM

    @moi,

    I think the point was about the nature of belief in God, and reward vs punishment.

    @Al Maarri,

    Thanks for sharing Smiley That was interesting.

    Self ban for Ramadan (THAT RHYMES)

    Expect me to come back a Muslim. Cool Tongue j/k we'll see..
  • Re: Belief in an angry God is the strongest predictor of a country?s crime rate
     Reply #4 - June 21, 2012, 04:29 PM

    I think this might be bollocks.  Scandinavia has very low crime rates and very low rates of belief in gods.  US has huge crime rates and high rates of belief in gods.


    Read the article (and the study). I think you misunderstood it. whistling2

    chepea: You are welcome!

    "Beauty is truth, truth beauty," - that is all
            Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

    - John Keats
  • Re: Belief in an angry God is the strongest predictor of a country’s crime rate
     Reply #5 - June 21, 2012, 06:29 PM

    Quote
    A growing program of research from across the social sciences now supports the long-held claim that religion positively affects normative behavior (see [1] for a review). Religiosity shows consistent positive correlations with charity and volunteerism [2], and negative relations with lax attitudes about the justifiability of moral transgressions [3]. Moreover, experimental work has shown that religious priming increases ‘prosocial’ generosity and cooperation, and decreases cheating [4]–[6].


    This is not correct.  I need to do some work on this but this immediately has got my warning bells on loud.

    When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.


    ― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
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