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Are Religious People Nice People? Evidence from the National Survey of Black Americans

Christopher G. Ellison
Social Forces
Vol. 71, No. 2 (Dec., 1992), pp. 411-430
Published by: Oxford University Press
DOI: 10.2307/2580017
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2580017
Page Count: 20
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Are Religious People Nice People? Evidence from the National Survey of Black Americans
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Abstract

This study explores the relationships between religiosity and interpersonal friendliness and cooperation using data from the 1979-80 National Survey of Black Americans (NSBA). Results indicate that respondents who engage in frequent devotional activities (e.g., prayer, Bible study) are reported to be more open and less suspicious, and more enjoyable to interview, than their less-religious counterparts in post-hoc ratings by NSBA interviewers. In addition, respondents for whom religion serves as an important source of moral guidance are also viewed as friendlier, more interested, and more open than those for whom this aspect of religion is less salient. Other aspects of respondent religiosity (e.g., church participation) are unrelated to these post-hoc interviewer assessments. Findings are discussed in terms of (1) religious role-taking processes and (2) the internalization of religious norms concerning interpersonal kindness and empathy, although several alternative explanations are also considered. A number of implications and directions for future research are identified.

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