Religion and moral self-image: The contributions of prosocial behavior, socially desirable responding, and personality

Sarah J. Ward, Laura A. King

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Often, the high moral self-image held by religious people is viewed with skepticism. Three studies examined the contributions of socially desirable responding (SDR), personality traits, prosocial behavior, and individual differences in prosocial tendencies to the association between religiosity and moral self-image. In Studies 1 and 2 (N's = 346, 507), personality traits (agreeableness, conscientiousness) and individual differences in empathy/prosociality were the strongest explanatory variables for religiosity's association with moral self-image measures; SDR and prosocial behavior contributed more weakly to this association. In Study 3 (N = 180), the effect of a bogus pipeline manipulation on moral self-image was moderated by religiosity. Among the highly religious, moral self-image remained high even in the bogus pipeline condition. These studies show that the association between religiosity and moral self-image is most strongly explained by personality traits and individual differences in prosociality/empathy, rather than a desirability response bias.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)222-231
Number of pages10
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Volume131
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2018
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Moral self-image
  • Morality
  • Prosociality
  • Religion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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