Who Helps the Samaritan? The Influence of Religious vs. Secular Primes on Spontaneous Helping of Members of Religious Outgroups

in Journal of Cognition and Culture
Restricted Access
Get Access to Full Text
Rent on DeepDyve

Have an Access Token?

Enter your access token to activate and access content online.

Please login and go to your personal user account to enter your access token.


Have Institutional Access?

Access content through your institution. Any other coaching guidance?


There is a debate as to whether religion increases prosociality. Darley and Batson’s (1973) classic Good Samaritan study provided evidence against religious prosociality because priming religion among Christian seminary students did not increase the likelihood of helping an ailing confederate. Conceptually replicating this study, we primed undergraduate Christians with benevolent verses attributed to the Bible, benevolent verses attributed to u.s. statesmen, or benevolent-irrelevant quotations. Participants were given the opportunity to pick up envelopes dropped by a confederate, who was or was not wearing a hijab. In the non-hijab condition, the rate of helping did not vary across conditions. However, in the hijab wearing condition, the odds of helping were significantly lower in the control group. These results suggest that reminders of benevolence may play a role in mitigating some instances of discrimination, but that religion may be just one source of influence that can foster prosociality toward outgroups.

Who Helps the Samaritan? The Influence of Religious vs. Secular Primes on Spontaneous Helping of Members of Religious Outgroups

in Journal of Cognition and Culture



AhmedA. M.SalasO. Implicit influences of Christian religious representations on dictator and prisoner’s dilemma game decisions The Journal of Socio-Economics 2011 40 242 246

BatsonC. D.FloydR. B.MeyerJ. M.WinnerA. L. “And who is my neighbor?:” Intrinsic religion as a source of universal compassion Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 1999 38 445 457

BatsonC. D.KobrynowiczD.DinnersteinJ. L.KampfH. C.WilsonA. D. In a very different voice: Unmasking moral hypocrisy Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 1997 72 1333 1348

Ben-NerA.McCallB. P.StephaneM.WangH. Identity and in-group/out-group differentiation in work and giving behaviors: Experimental evidence Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization 2009 72 153 170

BrennerP. S. Identity importance and the overreporting of religious service attendance: Mulitple imputation of religious attendance using the American Time Use Study and the General Social Survey Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 2011 50 103 115

DarleyJ. M.BatsonC. D. “From Jerusalem to Jericho”: A study of situational and dispositional variables in helping behavior Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 1973 27 100 108

DovidioJ. F.PiliavinJ. A.SchroederD. A.PennerL. A. The social psychology of prosocial behavior 2006 New York, NY Psychology Press

GalenL. W. Does religious belief promote prosociality? A critical examination Psychological Bulletin 2012 138 876 906

GillumR. F.MastersK. S. Religiousness and blood donation: Findings from a national survey Journal of Health Psychology 2010 15 163 172

GorsuchR. L.McPhersonS. E. Intrinsic/extrinsic measurement: I/E-Revised and single-item scales Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 1989 28 348 354

GreenwaldA. G. Does the Good Samaritan parable increase helping? A comment on Darley and Batson’s no-effect conclusion Journal ol Personality and Social Psychology 1975 32 578 583

GrossmanP. J.ParrettM. B. Religion and prosocial behaviour: A field test Applied Economics Letters 2011 18 523 526

HewstoneM.RubinM.WillisH. Intergroup bias Annual Review of Psychology 2002 53 575 604

JacksonE. F.BachmeierM. D.WoodJ. R.CraftE. A. Volunteering and charitable giving: Do religious and associational ties promote helping behavior? Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 1995 24 59 78

JohnsonK. A.LiY. J.CohenA. B.OkunM. A. Friends in high places: The influence of authoritarian and benevolent God-concepts on social attitudes and behaviors Psychology of Religion and Spirituality 2013 5 15 22

MalhotraD. (When) are religious people nicer? Religious salience and the “Sunday Effect” on pro-social behavior Judgment and Decision Making 2010 5 138 143

McCulloughM. E.WilloughbyB. L. Religion, self-regulation, and self-control: Associations, explanations, and implications Psychological Bulletin 2009 135 69 93

NorenzayanA.ShariffA. The origin and evolution of religious prosociality Science 2008 322 58 62

OkunM. A.MichelJ. Sense of community and being a volunteer among the young-old Journal of Applied Gerontology 2006 25 173 188

PichonI.SaroglouV. Religion and helping: Impact of target thinking styles and just-world beliefs Archive for the Psychology of Religion 2009 35 215 236

PichonI.BoccatoG.SaroglouV. Nonconscious influences of religion on prosociality European Journal of Social Psychology 2007 37 1032 1045

PrestonJ. L.RitterR. S.HernandezJ. I. Principles of religious prosociality: A review and reformulation Social and Personality Psychology Compass 2010 4 574 590

Reed IIA.AquinoK. F. Moral identity and the expanding circle of moral regard toward out-groups Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 2003 84 1270 1286

RothschildZ. K.AbdollahiA.PyszczynskiT. Does peace have a prayer? The effect of mortality salience, compassionate values, and religious fundamentalism on hostility toward out-groups Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 2009 45 816 827

RuiterS.DeGraafN. D. National context, religiosity, and volunteering: Results from 53 countries American Sociological Review 2006 71 191 210

SaroglouV. Religion and the five factors of personality: a meta-analytic review Personality and Individual Differences 2002 32 15 25

SaroglouV. Is religion not prosocial at all? Comment on Galen (2012) Psychological Bulletin 2012 138 907 912

SaroglouV.PichonI.TrompetteL.VerschuerenM.DernelleR. Prosocial behavior and religion: New evidence based on projective measures and peer ratings Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 2005 44 323 348

SchwartzS. H.HuismansS. Value priorities and religiosity in four Western religions Social Psychology Quarterly 1995 58 88 107

ShadishW. R.CookT. D.CampbellD. T. Experimental and quasi-experimental designs for generalized causal inference 2002 Belmont, CA Wadsworth

ShariffA. F.NorenzayanA. God is watching you: Priming God concepts increases prosocial behavior in an anonymous economic game Psychological Science 2007 18 803 809

SmithB. G.StarkR. Religious attendance relates to generosity worldwide: Religious and secular more charitable if they attend services 2009 available online at http://www.gallup.com/poll/122807/Religious-Attendance-Relates-Generosity-Worldwide.aspx (retrieved December 2012)

UngerM. F. The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary 1988/1957 Chicago, IL Moody Press Revised and updated edn


  • View in gallery
    Odds of helping by condition and whether or not the beneficiary wore a hijab.

Index Card

Content Metrics

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 22 22 17
Full Text Views 9 9 9
PDF Downloads 4 4 4
EPUB Downloads 0 0 0