Human Rights: Why Countries Differ

In: Comparative Sociology
Heiner Rindermann Department of Psychology, Chemnitz University of Technology Germany

Search for other papers by Heiner Rindermann in
Current site
Google Scholar
Noah Carl Nuffield College, Oxford University United Kingdom

Search for other papers by Noah Carl in
Current site
Google Scholar
Download Citation Get Permissions

Access options

Get access to the full article by using one of the access options below.

Institutional Login

Log in with Open Athens, Shibboleth, or your institutional credentials

Login via Institution


Buy instant access (PDF download and unlimited online access):



Countries differ with respect to human rights. Using the cross-country ciri data (Cingranelli & Richards), the authors tested two theories. The cognitive-moral enlightenment theory going back to Piaget and Socrates postulates that individuals and nations with higher levels of cognitive ability think and behave in a way more conducive to human rights. The culture-religion theory going back to Weber, Sombart and Voltaire postulates that different religious beliefs shape attitudes, and propel societies toward institutions that are more or less supportive of human rights. Cognitive ability had a positive impact on human rights but its effect varied depending on the country sample. More important was religion, both in cross-sectional and longitudinal models. Percentage of Christians had a positive impact (r = .62, total effect β = .63), percentage of Muslims had a negative one (r = −.57, total effect β = −.59). Political institutions are highly correlated with human rights, but religion is the decisive background factor.

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 3162 166 15
Full Text Views 480 9 1
PDF Views & Downloads 156 5 2