The ecological validity of priming religiousness : context and culture.
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Across four studies, the paradox of religiousness and prejudice was examined through self-report and priming methods in both a laboratory setting in an evangelical culture and a culturally agnostic field setting. Across all cultures and methods greater religiousness was associated with more positive attitudes towards the religious ingroup and more negative attitudes towards religious value-violating outgroups (i.e., intergroup bias) whether religion was inherently salient in the culture examined, or activated by a religious context. These studies indicate that priming religiousness through subtle ecologically valid methods is possible but difficult, and the activation of these constructs is seated in the culture in which those constructs are activated. In a highly religious series of American samples, subtle religious primes did not significantly influence self-reported religiousness, attitudes towards outgroups, or political attitudes. In a more religiously heterogeneous European sample, however, the mere presence of a religious stimulus in a participant’s visual field was associated with more conservative attitudes, higher self-reported personal religiousness, and greater intergroup bias.