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      Do reminders of God increase willingness to take risks?

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      Center for Open Science

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          Many people, and American Christians in particular, view God as a benevolent protector. Those who believe in God may therefore expect that they can safely engage in potentially risky activities, secure in the knowledge that God will look out for their best interests and ensure good outcomes. Initial experiments supported this hypothesis, but recent attempts to replicate them failed. This unreliable pattern may reflect a false conceptual hypothesis, or an inadequate method: Both the initial reports and the replication attempts used outdated religious priming methods we now know to be ineffective. The present research aimed to clarify the relationship between thinking about God and risk-taking behaviors. A pilot study (N = 264) showed that American Christians do expect that God will protect them during risky activities; moreover, those who hold this expectation more strongly report greater willingness to take risks. This registered report then used a high-powered preregistered experiment to test whether having participants explicitly think about God’s (presumably protective) influence over what happens in their lives increases their willingness to take risks. Results confirmed that American Christian participants were more willing to take non-moral risks when thinking about God, compared to a control condition, d = 0.28, 95% CI [0.12, 0.44], p < .001. This pattern was robust to different exclusion criteria and was consistent across domains of career, recreational, and social risks. By using the most recent and sensitive methods, this study provides a more definitive test of the conceptual hypothesis that thinking about God can influence risk-taking.

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          Center for Open Science
          August 29 2023
          © 2023




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