Secularism and Nonreligion
To what extent do supernatural beliefs, group affiliation, and social interaction produce values and behaviors that benefit others, i.e., prosociality? Addressing this question involves multiple variables interacting within complex social networks that shape and constrain the beliefs and behaviors of individuals. We examine the relationships among some of these factors utilizing data from the World Values Survey to inform the construction of an Agent-Based Model. The latter was able to identify the conditions under which - and the mechanisms by which - the prosociality of simulated agents was increased or decreased within an "artificial society" designed to reflect real world parameters. The combined results indicated that prosociality was more related to agents' group affiliation and social networks than to their worldview beliefs. It also showed that prosociality changed as a function of agents' worldviews, group affiliation, and social network properties. Individuals with supernatural worldviews had higher levels of active prosociality, but this was primarily directed toward ingroup members. Naturalistic believers and the unaffiliated, on the other hand, tended to have higher levels of trust and tolerance. We describe the potential usefulness of such modeling techniques for addressing complex problems in the study of secularity and nonreligion.
Original Publication Citation
Galen, L., Gore, R., & Shults, F. L. (2021). Modeling the effects of religious belief and affiliation on prosociality. Secularism and Nonreligion, 10, 1-21, Article 6. https://doi.org/10.5334/snr.128.
Galen, Luke; Gore, Ross; and Shults, F. LeRon, "Modeling the Effects of Religious Belief and Affiliation on Prosociality" (2021). VMASC Publications. 58.