- Beyond...

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Beyond Beliefs 1 Running Head: RELIGIOSITY AND GROUP MORALITY Beyond Beliefs: Religions Bind Individuals into Moral Communities Jesse Graham and Jonathan Haidt University of Virginia October 7, 2009 In Press: Personality and Social Psychology Review Words in main text: 6,918 Author note: This work was supported by Institute for Education Sciences and Jacob Javits fellowships to the first author. We thank Sarah Estes Graham, Carlee Hawkins, Selin Kesebir, Jason Kisling, Nicole Lindner, J. Patrick Seder, Constantine Sedikides, Gary Sherman, and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments. Abstract Social psychologists have often followed other scientists in treating religiosity primarily as a set of beliefs held by individuals. But beliefs are only one facet of this complex and multidimensional construct. We argue that social psychology can best contribute to scholarship on religion by being relentlessly social. We begin with a social-functionalist approach in which beliefs, rituals, and other aspects of religious practice are best understood as means of creating a moral community. We discuss the ways that religion is intertwined with five moral foundations (Haidt & Graham, 2007), particularly the group-focused “binding” foundations of Ingroup/loyalty, Authority/respect, and Purity/sanctity. We use this theoretical perspective to address three mysteries about religiosity, including why religious people are happier, why they are more charitable, and why most people in the world are religious.
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Beyond Beliefs 2 Beyond Beliefs: Religions Bind Individuals into Moral Communities When viewing complex phenomena, it’s often hard to know where to look. If a lot of motion surrounds a single object – the football in a football game, the queen bee among her buzzing attendants – we can’t help but look there. In these cases the focal object really is worth attending to. In a college football game, a vast sea of activity can be understood as two teams of people working together to move the ball in opposite directions. In the case of a beehive the agents are not conscious of their goals, but their activity nevertheless can be interpreted from a functionalist perspective as a coordinated effort to protect, nurture, and reproduce the ovary of the hive. For bees, coordination comes automatically. The near-miracle of hymenoptera cooperation came about long ago, and natural selection continues to choose the hives that do it best within a given ecological context. But for humans, the miracle of cooperation happens anew each Saturday when thousands of students who often don’t know each other descend on their football stadium, participate in ritual pre-game behaviors, alter their neurochemistry with alcohol, adorn their bodies with special clothing or body paint, sing songs, chant chants, move together synchronously, and then mourn or celebrate together that evening depending on the outcome of the game. Can all of these behaviors be understood functionally as attempts to move
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