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

Suicidal thoughts rapidly reduced with ketamine, finds study

December 14, 2017
Ketamine was significantly more effective than a commonly used sedative in reducing suicidal thoughts in depressed patients, according to researchers at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC). They also found that ketamine's ...

Do bullies have more sex?

December 14, 2017
Adolescents who are willing to exploit others for personal gain are more likely to bully and have sex than those who score higher on a measure of honesty and humility. This is according to a study in Springer's journal Evolutionary ...

Children's screen-time guidelines too restrictive, according to new research

December 14, 2017
Digital screen use is a staple of contemporary life for adults and children, whether they are browsing on laptops and smartphones, or watching TV. Paediatricians and scientists have long expressed concerns about the impact ...

Eating together as a family helps children feel better, physically and mentally

December 14, 2017
Children who routinely eat their meals together with their family are more likely to experience long-term physical and mental health benefits, a new Canadian study shows.

The iceberg model of self-harm

December 14, 2017
Researchers have created a model of self-harm that shows high levels of the problem in the community, especially in young girls, and the need for school-based prevention measures.

Anti-stress compound reduces obesity and diabetes

December 13, 2017
For the first time, scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich could prove that a stress protein found in muscle has a diabetes promoting effect. This finding could pave the way to a completely new treatment ...

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.