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Distrust is the central motivating factor behind why religious people dislike atheists, according to a new study led by University of British Columbia psychologists.

“Where there are religious majorities — that is, in most of the world — atheists are among the least trusted people,” says lead author Will Gervais, a doctoral student in UBC’s Dept. of Psychology. “With more than half a billion atheists worldwide, this prejudice has the potential to affect a substantial number of people.”…

“This antipathy is striking, as atheists are not a coherent, visible or powerful social group,” says Gervais, who co-authored the study with UBC Associate Prof. Ara Norenzayan and Azim Shariff of the University of Oregon. The study is titled, Do You Believe in Atheists? Distrust is Central to Anti-Atheist Prejudice…

The religious behaviors of others may provide believers with important social cues, the researchers say. “Outward displays of belief in God may be viewed as a proxy for trustworthiness, particularly by religious believers who think that people behave better if they feel that God is watching them,” says Norenzayan. “While atheists may see their disbelief as a private matter on a metaphysical issue, believers may consider atheists’ absence of belief as a public threat to cooperation and honesty.” –Science Daily

Writing Prompt: Write a character sketch about your character’s religious beliefs. Include how he or she feels about people who hold different beliefs.

Journaling Prompt: Write about the biases that you have towards people who hold religious beliefs that are different from your own.

Art Prompt: Religion

Nonfiction / Speech Writing Prompt: Inform your audience about the basis of religious distrust and give them tools to guard against it in themselves.

Photo Credit: Life in Flintville on Flickr

2 Responses to Prompt #271 Why We Distrust Some People

  1. Life in Flintville says:

    Why must a ‘civilized’ (and I use the word cautiously) society feel as though they need to judge others in the first place?
    ~Just sayin… It’s a sad people that do this; and then proclaim to ‘love thy neighbor’

    Thanks for the thoughts; for finding the article.
    For those that ‘think’ they know about their Faith, have them read the following; and follow through.
    http://flintville.multiply.com/links/item/204/Religious_Beliefs_A_Quiz

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