The Effects of the Activation of Differentiated Concepts of God on Social Behavior
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God is a pervasive part of our everyday lives; even in secular societies people are often exposed to God-related stimuli in the form of popular media, art and allusions in everyday language. While the influences of religiosity on human behavior have been studied, the influence of representations of God have been rarely researched. The limited pool of research shows that reminders of God can lead to both an increase in resisting temptations and reduced pursuit of goals, suggesting a divergent effect of God on behavior. The goal of this paper is to add to the limited pool of findings regarding the influence of exposures to God on behavior. In two studies previous research is expanded on; for the first time specific concepts of God (all-seeing, all-powerful and benevolent) are manipulated and their influence on helping intentions and cheating are examined. Results show some differentiation in behavior based on the priming of specific concepts of God. The pattern though, of this differentiation, interestingly, was not that which was expected. Notably, an all-powerful God led to higher helping intentions among believers in Study 1, while a benevolent God led to more cheating in Study 2. Explanations for the unexpected findings are discussed and future directions for research are presented.