The Link Between Religiousness and Prejudice: Testing Competing Explanations in an Adolescent Sample

James A. Shepperd, Gabrielle Pogge, Nikolette P. Lipsey, Colin Tucker Smith, Wendi A. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Research links intrinsic religiousness to less prejudice toward Black people and greater prejudice toward gay people. We examined longitudinally in a sample of 865 adolescents three variables that might serve as a mediator of attitudes toward Black people yet produce a suppression effect in attitudes toward gay people: (a) humanitarian values, (b) favorable evaluations of social groups, and (c) socially desirable responding. In light of evidence that Black people on average are more religious than are White people, we also examined whether self-identifying as Black helped explain racial prejudice. Our mediation analyses provided strong evidence that humanitarian values and the tendency to view all social groups favorably accounted for the relationship between intrinsic religiousness and positive attitudes toward Black people. We found no support that socially desirable responding or identifying as Black accounted for our effects. Consistent with a suppression effect, controlling statistically for the agreeable aspects of religiousness strengthened the relationship between intrinsic religiousness and prejudice toward gay people. These findings illustrate mechanisms through which intrinsic religiousness can correspond both positively and negatively with attitudes toward marginalized groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPsychology of Religion and Spirituality
StateAccepted/In press - 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Religious studies
  • Applied Psychology

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