A recent study by a University of Oregon psychology professor finds that a belief in God doesn’t deter a person from cheating on a test. Professor Azim Shariff and a University of British Columbia professor published an experiment involving 100 students at UBC. The results found that students with a belief in God doesn’t deter them from cheating, unless that God is seen as mean and punishing. Students who believed in a caring, forgiving God were more likely to cheat. Students who were said to not have a faith in God were just as likely to cheat as their peers who believed in caring, forgiving God.
Shariff found that the results of the students who believed in a harsh God were less likely to cheat, as that’s consistent with what he refers to as a “supernatural punishment hypothesis.” Shariff said that he was surprised that students who believe in a forgiving God were more likely to cheat. “It almost gives people license to act in an immoral way,” says Shariff.
Shariff and his colleague performed the study by using a mathematics test in which the students were told about a software glitch that would show the correct answer unless the student hit the space bar. The test was designed to encourage cheating.
Shariff specializes in the study of religion, morality and cultural and evolutionary psychology at UO. Read the Register Guard article Here.
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