Who is More Likely to Punish? A Comparison of Religious Fundamentalists, Atheists and Mainline Christians.

Document Type


Presentation Date

Fall 10-2010

Conference Name

Annual joint meeting of the Religious Research Association and the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion

Conference Location

Baltimore, MD


The increased propensity to engage in punitive behaviors among religious fundamentalists has been established by previous research. What remains unanswered is whether members of the other end of the religiosity spectrum (i.e., atheists) are more likely, less likely or as likely as religious fundamentalists to engage in punitive behaviors. Therefore the purpose of the current investigation is to explore this question through the use of a 3 X 2 factorial experimental design. Comparisons of religious fundamentalists, atheists and mainline Christians with respect to the decision to dole out either a lenient or harsh punishment are discussed; the effect of several control factors (i.e., race, sex, specific religious affiliation) are also examined.



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