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Risk and Religion: An Explanation of Gender Differences in Religiosity

Alan S. Miller and John P. Hoffmann
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion
Vol. 34, No. 1 (Mar., 1995), pp. 63-75
DOI: 10.2307/1386523
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1386523
Page Count: 13
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Risk and Religion: An Explanation of Gender Differences in Religiosity
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Abstract

Gender differences in religiosity are well known. Past studies have consistently shown that females tend to be more religious than males. We propose that gender differences in risk preferences are related to differences in religiosity. Building on the classic concept of "Pascal's wager," we conceive of religious behavior as risk averse and nonreligious behavior as risk taking. Analysis of data from the Monitoring the Future data set shows that the addition of risk preference strongly attenuates gender differences in religiosity. Risk preference also is a significant predictor of religiosity within each gender. Implications of this study are discussed.

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