Kevin Lewis

March 17, 2020

Religious people only live longer in religious cultural contexts: A gravestone analysis
Tobias Ebert et al.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming


Religious people live longer than nonreligious people, according to a staple of social science research. Yet, are those longevity benefits an inherent feature of religiosity? To find out, we coded gravestone inscriptions and imagery to assess the religiosity and longevity of 6,400 deceased people from religious and nonreligious U.S. counties. We show that in religious cultural contexts, religious people lived 2.2 years longer than did nonreligious people. In nonreligious cultural contexts, however, religiosity conferred no such longevity benefits. Evidently, a longer life is not an inherent feature of religiosity. Instead, religious people only live longer in religious cultural contexts where religiosity is valued. Our study answers a fundamental question on the nature of religiosity and showcases the scientific potential of gravestone analyses.

The Politics of Religious Nones
Philip Schwadel
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, March 2020, Pages 180-189


Americans with no religious affiliation (aka religious “Nones”) are not a politically homogeneous community. Just as there are political differences between groups of Christians, there are political differences between groups of religious Nones. I use nationally representative survey data to examine the political activities and perspectives of atheists, agnostics, and those who are “nothing in particular.” Results show that Americans who report that their religion is nothing in particular are relatively uninterested in politics and unlikely to be politically active; atheists are relatively liberal and likely to experience political conflict and follow political news; and agnostics are particularly likely to vote and feel politically isolated from their families. In many ways, the “softer” secularism of those who are nothing in particular is politically more similar to religious affiliates than the “harder” secularism of agnostics and especially atheists. These results have important implications for the future of American politics as Nones now have the potential to rival evangelical Protestants as a politically relevant constituency.

Do People in Conservative States Really Watch More Porn? A Hierarchical Analysis
Samuel Perry & Andrew Whitehead
Socius: Sociological Research for a Dynamic World, February 2020


Recent studies have found that state-level religious and political conservatism is positively associated with various aggregate indicators of interest in pornography. Such studies have been limited, however, in that they either did not include data measuring actual consumption patterns and/or did not include data on individuals (risking the ecological fallacy). This study overcomes both limitations by incorporating state-level data with individual-level data and a measure of pornography consumption from a large nationally representative survey. Hierarchical linear regression analyses show that, in the main, state-level religious and political characteristics do not predict individual-level pornography consumption, and individual-level religiosity and political conservatism predict less recent pornography consumption. However, interactions between individual-level evangelical identity and state-level political conservatism indicate that evangelicals who live in more politically conservative states report the highest rates of pornography consumption. These findings thus provide more nuanced support for previous research linking religious and political conservatism with greater pornography consumption.

Religious residue: Cross-cultural evidence that religious psychology and behavior persist following deidentification
Daryl Van Tongeren et al.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming


More than 1 billion people worldwide report no religious affiliation. These religious “nones” represent the world’s third largest religion-related identity group and are a diverse group, with some having previous religious identification and others never identifying as religious. We examined how 3 forms of religious identification—current, former, and never—influence a range of cognitions, emotions, and behavior. Three studies using nationally representative samples of religious Western (United States), secular Western (Netherlands, New Zealand) and Eastern (Hong Kong) cultures showed evidence of a religious residue effect: Formerly religious individuals (i.e., religious “dones”) differed from never religious and currently religious individuals in cognitive, emotional, and behavioral processes. Study 1 (n = 3,071) offered initial cross-cultural evidence, which was extended in a preregistered replication study that also included measures of charitable contribution (Study 2; n = 1,626). Study 3 (N = 31,604) found that individuals who deidentified were still relatively likely to engage in prosocial behavior (e.g., volunteering) after leaving religion. This research has broad implications for understanding changing global trends in religious identification and their consequences for psychology and behavior.

Let Death Seize Upon Them: Populism in Political Prayers of Imprecation
Cynthia Burack
Politics and Religion, forthcoming


In the United States, religious elites routinely use prayer to set and communicate political agendas, shape the opinions of Christian publics, and mobilize political activism. Among political prayers distributed to believers, imprecation is rare. In this paper, I examine a set of cases of imprecatory political prayers publicized since the turn of millennium that have undeniable U.S. political subtexts and objects. Using the work of James Scott and Jan-Werner Müller, I argue that most political prayers of imprecation can fruitfully be read as manifestations of right-wing populism. These prayers reveal a hidden transcript of rage aimed not only at mainstream political arrangements and political elites but also at the comparatively polite discourse characteristic of mainstream U.S. Christian traditions, including much Christian conservatism.

Self-transcendence through self-inhibition?: God primes reduce self-accessibility
Patrick Lin et al.
Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, forthcoming


This article reports 7 studies showing that God primes inhibit self-concept accessibility. Study 1A provided the first supportive evidence using undergraduate samples. Study 1B replicated the findings using working adult participants. Study 2A to 2C showed that the inhibitory effect of the God concept on implicit self-concepts was not due to concepts related to love, power, hope, religion, devil, and father. Study 3 found the same inhibitory effect when the God prime was subliminally presented. Study 4 showed that God concept priming influenced implicit self-representations, but not other types of implicit representations. Finally, a meta-analysis of our findings reveal a large effect of priming. In addition, the effect was consistent across different religious affiliations. These findings provide evidence at the social–cognitive level that activation of God concepts can induce lower self-orientation: a possible mechanism for religious self-transcendence.

Devout Neoliberalism?! Explaining Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood's Socio-economic Perspective and Policies
Khalil al-Anani
Politics and Religion, forthcoming


How can we explain the neoliberal orientation of Islamist movements in the Middle East? This paper attempts to answer this question by exploring the case of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. It analyzes in depth the Brotherhood's socio-economic vision and policies when it was in power between 2012 and 2013. It argues that the Brotherhood adopted a market-oriented vision, which encouraged the private sector, liberalized the economy, and appealed to foreign investments. As a socio-political movement, the Brotherhood attempted to strike a balance between its constituency, which is rooted in the lower, middle, and upper-middle classes, and its commitment to neoliberal policies. However, this paradoxical balance burdened the movement and affected its popularity. The article also contends that the Brotherhood's neoliberal leanings can be explained by three key factors: the movement's pragmatism, its “devout” bourgeoisie, and the appeal for international acceptance and recognition.

Diverging Perceptions of Personal Moral Values and the Values of One's Religious Group
Travis Daryl Clark et al.
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, March 2020, Pages 119-140


A popular notion in many religions is that less pious individuals are also less moral. We sought to test the self‐described moral values of religious and nonreligious individuals under the framework of Moral Foundations Theory. In Study 1, we found that atheists differ from Christians in some moral domains. We also found evidence that Christians’ self‐ratings are consistently lower than what they perceive to be the moral values of other Christians. This finding contradicts previous findings that suggest that Christians may inflate their positive characteristics relative to their peers in other domains. In Studies 2 and 3, we tested several alternative explanations for this finding. Preliminary evidence suggests that Christians rate their moral values lower in comparison to Christian exemplars such as religious leaders, and not from a sense of humility. In contrast, atheists may not have exemplars for such a comparison.

Does Religiosity Matter to Value Relevance? Evidence from U.S. Banking Firms
Lamia Chourou
Journal of Business Ethics, March 2020, Pages 675–697


This study examines whether religiosity is associated with the valuation multiples investors assign to fair-valued assets that are susceptible to managerial bias. Using a sample of U.S. banking firms, I find that the value relevance of such assets is higher for firms located in more religious counties than it is for firms located in less religious counties. Moreover, I find that this result is more consistent with the ethicality trait than the risk aversion trait of more religious individuals. Additional tests show that the positive association between religiosity and value relevance of fair-valued assets is limited to firms with high fair value exposure, and it is stronger for firms with lower audit quality, lower institutional ownership, and lower analyst following. The results of this study suggest that investors perceive the role played by religiosity, in particular ethicality, in curbing managerial accounting biases and price accounting estimates accordingly.

Does religiosity influence venture capital investment decisions?
Justin Chircop, Sofia Johan & Monika Tarsalewska
Journal of Corporate Finance, forthcoming


Theories on contextual behavior (e.g., social norm, self-identity, and legitimacy theories) suggest that the religiosity of the geographical area in which an organization operates influences its behavior. Using a sample of 91,020 VC investments in the U.S., we study whether religiosity influences VC investment decisions. Based on prior literature that finds a positive relation between religiosity and risk aversion, we posit that VCs located in more religious counties make less risky investments. We find that VCs located in more religious areas are more likely to be involved in staging and syndication and have a greater propensity to invest in later and expansion stages of portfolio companies. Taken together, our results suggest that VCs located in religious counties tend to be more risk averse.


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