Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself (and as Thy In-group)
Examining the Effects of Moral Intuitions and Intercessory Prayer on Generous Behavior
January 2015–August 2017
- Sarah Schnitker, Project Leader
- Tyler S. Greenway, Student Researcher
- Abigail M. Shepherd, Student Researcher
In this study, we investigated the effects of moral intuitions and intercessory prayer on generosity expressed towards someone in the same faith tradition versus another faith tradition. We assigned Christian participants to 1 of 4 conditions whereby they engaged in a prayer/reflection about people being persecuted in Burma. Participants were assigned to either pray for or reflect on either in-group (Christians) or out-group (Muslims) members. Participants were then given an opportunity to donate $20 to Muslim, Christian, or secular charities. We hypothesized that intercessory prayer would increase generous giving and that praying for the out-group would lead to increased out-group giving. We also hypothesized that the loyalty moral intuition would mediate effects. Data was collected and analyzed from approximately 350 participants. Initial findings have been presented at the Lilly School of Philanthropy’s Science of Generosity initiative conference on November 2016.
The following article was published and highlights the findings and analyses from this study:
- Greenway, T.S., Schnitker, S.A. & Shepherd, A.M. (2018) Can prayer increase charitable giving? Examining the effects of intercessory prayer, moral intuitions, and theological orientation on generous behavior. The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 28:1 (3-18). doi: 10.1080/10508619.2017.1406790
This study was made possible through the support of generous grants by the Thrive Center, the Travis Research Institute, the American Psychological Association Division 36, and the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy’s Science and Imagination of Living Generously Funding Initiative.
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