Trust your gut? Study explores religion, morality and trust in authority

September 14, 2009

In a world filled with dogma, doctrine and discipline, it is accurate to say most of us strive to do what we believe is "right." These convictions and beliefs permeate every aspect of our lives, including education, ethics and even common law.

Psychologists Daniel C. Wisneski, Brad L. Lytle and Linda J. Skitka from the University of Illinois at Chicago explored this interplay of moral convictions and religious beliefs as it relates to our trust in authority. Specifically, the researchers provided a nationally-represented sample of adults--53% female, 72% White, 12% Black and 11% Hispanic--with an online survey about the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on physician-assisted suicide.

As the findings suggest in a recent issue of , a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, the more religious participants tended to trust the Supreme Court's ability to make the right decision while the group with strong moral convictions felt distrust. And both groups, as it turned out, based their beliefs on a gut reaction rather than on thoughtful, careful deliberation.

Participants took a survey designed to measure their support of or opposition to physician-assisted suicide, the extremity of their attitude, their moral convictions, their religiosity, their issue-specific trust in the and the time it took them to answer each question.

Participants who reported feeling strong moral convictions against physician-assisted suicide showed a greater distrust in the Supreme Court to make the right decision, and those who had high scores in religiosity tended to trust the Supreme Court. In addition, both the religious group and the group with strong moral convictions responded quickly to the question of trust in the Supreme Court.

As the authors concluded, people with strong moral convictions seem to not only base their trust in judgment on a gut reaction, "they do not trust even legitimate authorities to make the right decision in the first place."

Source: Association for Psychological Science (news : web)

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Half of people believe fake facts

December 7, 2016

Many people are prone to 'remembering' events that never happened, according to new research by the University of Warwick.

MRI scans detect 'brain rust' in schizophrenia

December 7, 2016

A damaging chemical imbalance in the brain may contribute to schizophrenia, according to research presented at the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology Annual Meeting in Hollywood, Florida.

Helping children achieve more in school

December 7, 2016

Not all children do well in school, despite being intellectually capable. Whilst parental relationships, motivation and self-concept all have a role to play, a recent study published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology ...

Want to give a good gift? Think past the 'big reveal'

December 6, 2016

Gift givers often make critical errors in gift selection during the holiday season, according to a new research article in Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

3 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Roj
not rated yet Sep 14, 2009
My gut tells me religious culture inherently advocates to supernatural authority and lawful hierarchy, while secular groups are inherently cynical of law makers and expect corruption from public officials.
freethinking
not rated yet Sep 14, 2009
Again another liberal biased group making a study that is stupid trying to demean religious people.

People who are strongly religious are also have strong moral conviction. So how can strongly religious and having a strong moral conviction have such differing opinions.

retrosurf
not rated yet Sep 15, 2009
Having strong moral convictions doesn't necessarily
mean that one is religious.

And I would expect the strongly religious, at least
christians, to suspect corruption in worldly
institutions, like courts and congresses; while the
secular might be more inclined to trust them.

I didn't see anything in the article that seemed to
demean religious people.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.