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Religion, Parochialism and Intuitive Cooperation [Registered Report Stage 1 Protocol]

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journal contribution
posted on 09.04.2020 by Ozan Isler, Onurcan Yilmaz, John Maule
ABSTRACT: Religions promote cooperation but they can also be divisive. Religious identity, while signaling trustworthiness, provides opportunities for out-group discrimination. Although implicit distrust of atheists is widespread, it remains to be studied whether religious prejudices induce intuitive discrimination in actual cooperation behavior. Evidence supporting the social heuristics hypothesis (SHH) finds intuitive cooperation to be independent of group identity. We test this prediction for religious group identity in a one-shot prisoner’s dilemma game, where practicing Christian believers are paired either with a coreligionist or an atheist and where time-limits are used to increase reliance on either intuitive or deliberated decisions. We also explore an alternative dual-process account of cooperation, the self-control account (SCA), which suggests that visceral reactions tend to be selfish and that cooperation requires cognitive effort. While support for SHH indicates that cooperation is intuitive in general, suggestive evidence for SCA instead implies that intuitive cooperation may be parochial.

ITEMS: Stage 1 Registered Report Protocol


Preregistration details

The study protocol was preregistered with Nature Human Behaviour.

Date of in-principle acceptance




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