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Is Religion Not Prosocial at All? Comment on Galen (2012)

Galen (2012) , critically reviewing recent research on religion and prosociality, concludes that the religious prosociality hypothesis is a (congruence) fallacy. The observed effects are not real: They only reflect stereotypes and ingroup favoritism, are due to secular psychological effects, are inc... Full description

Journal Title: Psychological Bulletin 2012, Vol.138(5), pp.907-912
Main Author: Saroglou, Vassilis
Format: Electronic Article Electronic Article
Language: English
Subjects:
ID: ISSN: 0033-2909 ; E-ISSN: 1939-1455 ; DOI: 10.1037/a0028927
Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0028927
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recordid: apa_articles10.1037/a0028927
title: Is Religion Not Prosocial at All? Comment on Galen (2012)
format: Article
creator:
  • Saroglou, Vassilis
subjects:
  • Prosocial Behavior
  • Altruism
  • Ingroup Favoritism
  • Religion
  • Atheism
ispartof: Psychological Bulletin, 2012, Vol.138(5), pp.907-912
description: Galen (2012) , critically reviewing recent research on religion and prosociality, concludes that the religious prosociality hypothesis is a (congruence) fallacy. The observed effects are not real: They only reflect stereotypes and ingroup favoritism, are due to secular psychological effects, are inconsistent, and confound (e.g., by ignoring curvilinear relationships) those low in religiosity with nonbelievers. In this commentary, a distinction is first made between the already known limitations on the extent, context, and quality of the religion–prosociality link and the novel, more radical argument of Galen denying the validity and the plausibility of such a link. Second, careful examination of relevant studies shows that religious prosociality is not reduced to social desirability in self-reports, is confirmed through ratings by peers who are blind with regard to the religious status of the target, and is expressed through real prosocial behavior in controlled experiments and life decisions with long-term effects. This behavior cannot be reduced to ingroup favoritism. Finally, Galen's opposition between religious versus “secular” psychological effects is criticized as psychologically problematic, and his insistence for examination of curvilinear relationships is relativized on the basis of research confirming the linear relationship. Alternative research questions for understanding prosociality of atheists are proposed.
language: eng
source:
identifier: ISSN: 0033-2909 ; E-ISSN: 1939-1455 ; DOI: 10.1037/a0028927
fulltext: fulltext
issn:
  • 0033-2909
  • 00332909
  • 1939-1455
  • 19391455
url: Link


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descriptionGalen (2012) , critically reviewing recent research on religion and prosociality, concludes that the religious prosociality hypothesis is a (congruence) fallacy. The observed effects are not real: They only reflect stereotypes and ingroup favoritism, are due to secular psychological effects, are inconsistent, and confound (e.g., by ignoring curvilinear relationships) those low in religiosity with nonbelievers. In this commentary, a distinction is first made between the already known limitations on the extent, context, and quality of the religion–prosociality link and the novel, more radical argument of Galen denying the validity and the plausibility of such a link. Second, careful examination of relevant studies shows that religious prosociality is not reduced to social desirability in self-reports, is confirmed through ratings by peers who are blind with regard to the religious status of the target, and is expressed through real prosocial behavior in controlled experiments and life decisions with long-term effects. This behavior cannot be reduced to ingroup favoritism. Finally, Galen's opposition between religious versus “secular” psychological effects is criticized as psychologically problematic, and his insistence for examination of curvilinear relationships is relativized on the basis of research confirming the linear relationship. Alternative research questions for understanding prosociality of atheists are proposed.
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descriptionGalen (2012) , critically reviewing recent research on religion and prosociality, concludes that the religious prosociality hypothesis is a (congruence) fallacy. The observed effects are not real: They only reflect stereotypes and ingroup favoritism, are due to secular psychological effects, are inconsistent, and confound (e.g., by ignoring curvilinear relationships) those low in religiosity with nonbelievers. In this commentary, a distinction is first made between the already known limitations on the extent, context, and quality of the religion–prosociality link and the novel, more radical argument of Galen denying the validity and the plausibility of such a link. Second, careful examination of relevant studies shows that religious prosociality is not reduced to social desirability in self-reports, is confirmed through ratings by peers who are blind with regard to the religious status of the target, and is expressed through real prosocial behavior in controlled experiments and life decisions with long-term effects. This behavior cannot be reduced to ingroup favoritism. Finally, Galen's opposition between religious versus “secular” psychological effects is criticized as psychologically problematic, and his insistence for examination of curvilinear relationships is relativized on the basis of research confirming the linear relationship. Alternative research questions for understanding prosociality of atheists are proposed.
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abstractGalen (2012) , critically reviewing recent research on religion and prosociality, concludes that the religious prosociality hypothesis is a (congruence) fallacy. The observed effects are not real: They only reflect stereotypes and ingroup favoritism, are due to secular psychological effects, are inconsistent, and confound (e.g., by ignoring curvilinear relationships) those low in religiosity with nonbelievers. In this commentary, a distinction is first made between the already known limitations on the extent, context, and quality of the religion–prosociality link and the novel, more radical argument of Galen denying the validity and the plausibility of such a link. Second, careful examination of relevant studies shows that religious prosociality is not reduced to social desirability in self-reports, is confirmed through ratings by peers who are blind with regard to the religious status of the target, and is expressed through real prosocial behavior in controlled experiments and life decisions with long-term effects. This behavior cannot be reduced to ingroup favoritism. Finally, Galen's opposition between religious versus “secular” psychological effects is criticized as psychologically problematic, and his insistence for examination of curvilinear relationships is relativized on the basis of research confirming the linear relationship. Alternative research questions for understanding prosociality of atheists are proposed.
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