Home > Research > Publications & Outputs > "If you love me keep my commandments"
View graph of relations

"If you love me keep my commandments": religiosity increases preference for rule-based moral arguments

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2012
<mark>Journal</mark>International Journal for the Psychology of Religion
Issue number4
Number of pages18
Pages (from-to)285-302
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Two experiments demonstrated that religiosity affects the way people resolve moral dilemmas. Participants were presented a series of immoral actions and were asked to justify the wrongness of the action by appealing to either the violation of a rule (rule-based argument) or the negative consequences resulting from the action (outcome-based argument). In Study 1, it was shown both among British and American samples that religious individuals preferred rule-based moral arguments to consequentialist moral arguments more than nonreligious individuals, and covariance with political conservatism did not account for this effect. Study 2 replicated these results with revisions to the materials and extended measures. In this study, dimensions of religiosity—particularly Christian Orthodoxy—predicted rule-based morality independent of a personal need for structure, need for cognition, and right-wing authoritarianism. These results imply that religious individuals who are committed to orthodox religious teaching display a deontological style of morality for reasons that extend beyond a need for structure, cognitive simplicity, or submission to authority.