Moral Stereotypes, Moral Self-Image, and Religiosity

Sarah J. Ward, Laura A. King

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The precise mechanisms that account for the positive association between religion and self-reports of morality are uncertain. Three studies examined whether the association between religiosity and moral self-image was explained by perceptions of the morality of one's religious ingroup, beliefs that one needs religion to be moral, and impression management. In Study 1 (N = 284), perceptions of the morality one's religious ingroup, impression management, the perceived desirability of moral traits, and selfreported prosocial behaviors all independently partially explained the religiosity-moral self-image link. Study 2 (N = 593) demonstrated that religious people believe that engaging in religious behaviors and believing in God boosts one's morality. Study 3 (N = 790) demonstrated that the association between religiosity and moral self-image was partially explained by impression management and perceptions of the morality of one's religious ingroup. These studies demonstrated a consistent association between religiosity and moral self-image, which was explained by both the perceived morality of one's religious ingroup and impression management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)160-174
Number of pages15
JournalPsychology of Religion and Spirituality
Issue number2
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Moral self-image
  • Morality
  • Religion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Religious studies
  • Applied Psychology


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