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      Using Sermons to Study Religions’ Influence on Political Behavior

      1 , 2
      Comparative Political Studies
      SAGE Publications

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          Abstract

          The effects of religion on political behavior are difficult to study for a number of reasons. One difficulty is that “religion” is not a singular entity and is thus unlikely to have a unidirectional effect on political behavior. Another difficulty is that everyone in a particular place and time might be embedded in the same set of religious practices, such that the counterfactual is difficult to assess. In response to these and other challenges, we suggest opening up the black box of religion in order to examine the influence of its component parts. Specifically, we focus on exposure to sermons. We describe a study about the impact of Christian sermons in sub-Saharan Africa on reactions to inequality. We discuss the approach’s advantages and limitations and discuss how to integrate it with the study of other aspects of religion and how the approach might apply to other domains of political behavior.

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          Most cited references58

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          Framing Theory

          We review the meaning of the concept of framing, approaches to studying framing, and the effects of framing on public opinion. After defining framing and framing effects, we articulate a method for identifying frames in communication and a psychological model for understanding how such frames affect public opinion. We also discuss the relationship between framing and priming, outline future research directions, and describe the normative implications of framing.
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            Beyond SES: A Resource Model of Political Participation

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              God is watching you: priming God concepts increases prosocial behavior in an anonymous economic game.

              We present two studies aimed at resolving experimentally whether religion increases prosocial behavior in the anonymous dictator game. Subjects allocated more money to anonymous strangers when God concepts were implicitly activated than when neutral or no concepts were activated. This effect was at least as large as that obtained when concepts associated with secular moral institutions were primed. A trait measure of self-reported religiosity did not seem to be associated with prosocial behavior. We discuss different possible mechanisms that may underlie this effect, focusing on the hypotheses that the religious prime had an ideomotor effect on generosity or that it activated a felt presence of supernatural watchers. We then discuss implications for theories positing religion as a facilitator of the emergence of early large-scale societies of cooperators.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                (View ORCID Profile)
                Journal
                Comparative Political Studies
                Comparative Political Studies
                SAGE Publications
                0010-4140
                1552-3829
                April 2021
                September 15 2020
                April 2021
                : 54
                : 5
                : 779-822
                Affiliations
                [1 ]New York University, New York, NY, USA
                [2 ]Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA
                Article
                10.1177/0010414020957667
                28f4e845-3907-47ba-bf11-d4cdfb9dba5a
                © 2021

                http://journals.sagepub.com/page/policies/text-and-data-mining-license

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