Religious complexity and intergroup bias

Carissa Sharp, Azim Shariff, Jordan LaBouff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Religion is associated with both positive and negative outcomes, such as prosocial or discriminatory attitudes and behavior. Previous research has linked particular styles of religious belief, such as fundamentalism, to these kinds of outcomes; however, their explanatory power is necessarily limited by their content specificity. In this paper, we investigate the relationship between two types of religious complexity, the complexity of people’s thought (Integrative Complexity) and the complexity of people’s social identities (Social Identity Complexity), and intergroup bias. Two online studies investigate the relationship between religious complexity and attitudes towards religious outgroup members, finding that higher religious complexity predicts more positive attitudes and less anxiety towards outgroup members, as well as less ingroup preference. These findings suggest that Integrative Complexity and Social Identity Complexity may be useful constructs for understanding the relationship between religion and positive or negative outcomes, as well as the development of theory-based interventions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-88
Number of pages16
JournalThe International Journal for the Psychology of Religion
Issue number2
Early online date25 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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