Year of Publication

2014

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis

College

Arts and Sciences

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Will M. Gervais

Abstract

While many norms sustain or destabilize certain religions, one domain is particularly relevant to the survival of some religions over others: norms about fertility and reproduction. Thus far, several ethnographic and correlational studies have found a positive association between religiosity and fertility rate, but there is a dearth of laboratory investigation utilizing experimental methods to isolate causation. In Study 1, I found that experimentally activating religious concepts led to an increased desire to have children (N = 462). In Study 2, the focal study, I attempted to replicate and extend the previous study by examining implicit behavior (N = 120). I predicted that individuals primed with religion would be more likely to show an implicit approach motivation towards images of children. Failing to support my hypothesis, participants with religion activated were no more likely to approach images of babies than controls. This null finding was not affected by taking into account several relevant covariates. Additionally, an exploratory investigation of the effect that religious community norms may have on reproductive behavior was conducted. I found that participants that come from religious communities in which sexual deviance is emphasized were more likely to approach baby images. Future directions are discussed.

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