skip to main content


The NSF Public Access Repository (NSF-PAR) system and access will be unavailable from 5:00 PM ET until 11:00 PM ET on Friday, June 21 due to maintenance. We apologize for the inconvenience.

This content will become publicly available on August 1, 2024

Title: Benevolent God Concepts and Past Kind Behaviors Induce Generosity Toward Outgroups
Humans behave more prosocially toward ingroup (vs. outgroup) members. This preregistered research examined the influence of God concepts and memories of past behavior on prosociality toward outgroups. In Study 1 (n = 573), participants recalled their past kind or mean behavior (between-subjects) directed toward an outgroup. Subsequently, they completed a questionnaire assessing their views of God. Our dependent measure was the number of lottery entries given to another outgroup member. Participants who recalled their kind (vs. mean) behavior perceived God as more benevolent, which in turn predicted more generous allocation to the outgroup (vs. ingroup). Study 2 (n = 281) examined the causal relation by manipulating God concepts (benevolent vs. punitive). We found that not only recalling kind behaviors but perceiving God as benevolent increased outgroup generosity. The current research extends work on morality, religion, and intergroup relations by showing that benevolent God concepts and memories of past kind behaviors jointly increase outgroup generosity.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Social Cognition
Page Range / eLocation ID:
321 to 339
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Two experiments examined the polarization of public support for COVID-19 policies due to people’s (lack of) trust in political leaders and nonpartisan experts. In diverse samples in the United States (Experiment 1; N = 1,802) and the United Kingdom (Experiment 2; N = 1,825), participants evaluated COVID-19 policies that were framed as proposed by ingroup political leaders, outgroup political leaders, nonpartisan experts, or, in the United States, a bipartisan group of political leaders. At the time of the study in April 2020, COVID-19 was an unfamiliar and shared threat. Therefore, there were theoretical reasons suggesting that attitudes toward COVID-19 policy may not have been politically polarized. Yet, our results demonstrated that even relatively early in the pandemic people supported policies from ingroup political leaders more than the same policies from outgroup leaders, extending prior research on how people align their policy stances to political elites from their own parties. People also trusted experts and ingroup political leaders more than they did outgroup political leaders. Partly because of this polarized trust, policies from experts and bipartisan groups were more widely supported than policies from ingroup political leaders. These results illustrate the potentially detrimental role political leaders may play and the potential for effective leadership by bipartisan groups and nonpartisan experts in shaping public policy attitudes during crises.

    more » « less
  2. Emotions usually occur in a social context; yet little is known about how similar and dissimilar others influence our emotions. In the current study, we examined whether ingroup and outgroup members have differential influence on emotion processing at the behavioral and neural levels. To this end, we recruited 45 participants to rate a series of images displaying people engaged in different emotional contexts. Participants then underwent an fMRI scan where they viewed the same images along with information on how ingroup and outgroup members rated them, and they were asked to rate the images again. We found that participants shifted their emotions to be more in alignment with the ingroup over the outgroup, and that neural regions implicated in positive valuation [ventral striatum (VS) and ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC)], mentalizing [dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC), medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), posterior superior temporal sulcus (pSTS), and temporal pole], as well as emotion processing and salience detection (amygdala and insula), linearly tracked this behavior such that the extent of neural activity in these regions paralleled changes in participants’ emotions. Results illustrate the powerful impact that ingroup members have on our emotions.

    more » « less
  3. Most humans believe in a god or gods, a belief that may promote prosociality toward coreligionists. A critical question is whether such enhanced prosociality is primarily parochial and confined to the religious ingroup or whether it extends to members of religious outgroups. To address this question, we conducted field and online experiments with Christian, Muslim, Hindu, and Jewish adults in the Middle East, Fiji, and the United States ( N = 4,753). Participants were given the opportunity to share money with anonymous strangers from different ethno-religious groups. We manipulated whether they were asked to think about their god before making their choice. Thinking about God increased giving by 11% (4.17% of the total stake), an increase that was extended equally to ingroup and outgroup members. This suggests that belief in a god or gods may facilitate intergroup cooperation, particularly in economic transactions, even in contexts with heightened intergroup tension.

    more » « less
  4. Abstract

    Early and middle adolescents' judgements and reasonings about peers who challenge exclusive and inclusive peer group norms were examined across three studies with varying intergroup contexts. Study 1 participants included (N = 199) non‐Arab American participants responding to an Arab American/non‐Arab American intergroup context. Study 2 included (N = 123) non‐Asian and (N = 105) Asian American participants responding to an Asian/non‐Asian American intergroup context. Study 3 included (N = 275) Lebanese participants responding to an American/Lebanese intergroup context. Across all three studies participants responded to ingroup and outgroup deviant group members who challenged their peer groups to either include or exclude an outgroup peer with similar interests. Findings indicated that adolescents approved of peers who challenged exclusive peer norms and advocated for inclusion of an ethnic and cultural outgroup, and disapproved of peers who challenged inclusive group norms and advocated for exclusion. Non‐Arab and non‐Asian American adolescents displayed ingroup bias when evaluating a deviant advocating for exclusion. Additionally, age differences were found among Asian American adolescents. Findings will be discussed in the light of intergroup research on those who challenge injustices.

    more » « less
  5. Political polarization impeded public support for policies to reduce the spread of COVID-19, much as polarization hinders responses to other contemporary challenges. Unlike previous theory and research that focused on the United States, the present research examined the effects of political elite cues and affective polarization on support for policies to manage the COVID-19 pandemic in seven countries ( n = 12,955): Brazil, Israel, Italy, South Korea, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Across countries, cues from political elites polarized public attitudes toward COVID-19 policies. Liberal and conservative respondents supported policies proposed by ingroup politicians and parties more than the same policies from outgroup politicians and parties. Respondents disliked, distrusted, and felt cold toward outgroup political elites, whereas they liked, trusted, and felt warm toward both ingroup political elites and nonpartisan experts. This affective polarization was correlated with policy support. These findings imply that policies from bipartisan coalitions and nonpartisan experts would be less polarizing, enjoying broader public support. Indeed, across countries, policies from bipartisan coalitions and experts were more widely supported. A follow-up experiment replicated these findings among US respondents considering international vaccine distribution policies. The polarizing effects of partisan elites and affective polarization emerged across nations that vary in cultures, ideologies, and political systems. Contrary to some propositions, the United States was not exceptionally polarized. Rather, these results suggest that polarizing processes emerged simply from categorizing people into political ingroups and outgroups. Political elites drive polarization globally, but nonpartisan experts can help resolve the conflicts that arise from it. 
    more » « less