Religious pro-sociality? Experimental evidence from a sample of 766 Spaniards


Branas-Garza, P., Espín, A. and Neuman, S. 2014. Religious pro-sociality? Experimental evidence from a sample of 766 Spaniards. PLoS ONE. 9 (8), pp. 1-11.
TitleReligious pro-sociality? Experimental evidence from a sample of 766 Spaniards
AuthorsBranas-Garza, P., Espín, A. and Neuman, S.

This study explores the relationship between several personal religion-related variables and social behaviour, using three paradigmatic economic games: the dictator (DG), ultimatum (UG), and trust (TG) games. A large carefully designed sample of the urban adult population in Granada (Spain) is employed (N = 766). From participants' decisions in these games we obtain measures of altruism, bargaining behaviour and sense of fairness/equality, trust, and positive reciprocity. Three dimensions of religiosity are examined: (i) religious denomination; (ii) intensity of religiosity, measured by active participation at church services; and (iii) conversion out into a different denomination than the one raised in. The major results are: (i) individuals with “no religion” made decisions closer to rational selfish behaviour in the DG and the UG compared to those who affiliate with a “standard” religious denomination; (ii) among Catholics, intensity of religiosity is the key variable that affects social behaviour insofar as religiously-active individuals are generally more pro-social than non-active ones; and (iii) the religion raised in seems to have no effect on pro-sociality, beyond the effect of the current measures of religiosity. Importantly, behaviour in the TG is not predicted by any of the religion-related variables we analyse. While the results partially support the notion of religious pro-sociality, on the other hand, they also highlight the importance of closely examining the multidimensional nature of both religiosity and pro-social behaviour.

PublisherPublic Library of Science
JournalPLoS ONE
Publication dates
Print12 Aug 2014
Publication process dates
Deposited12 Sep 2014
Accepted16 Jul 2014
Output statusPublished
Publisher's version
Copyright Statement

Copyright: © 2014 Branas-Garza et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
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