CREDs, CRUDs, and Catholic Scandals Experimentally examining the effects of religious paragon behaviour on co-religionist belief

Hugh Turpin, Marc Andersen, Jonathan A. Lanman

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Abstract

Previous research on ‘Credibility Enhancing Displays’ (CREDs) suggests that long-term exposure to religious role models ‘practicing what they preach’ aids the acceptance of religious representations by cultural learners. Likewise, a considerable amount of anecdotal evidence implicates its opposite, perceived ‘religious hypocrisy’ (forthwith ‘Credibility Undermining Displays’ or ‘CRUDs’), as a factor in the rejection of religion. However, there is currently little causal evidence on whether behaviours of either kind displayed by religious authorities directly affect pre-existing religious belief. The current study investigated this question by priming Irish self-identified ‘Catholic Christian’ participants with either a clerical ‘CRED’ or ‘CRUD’ and subsequently measuring levels of explicit and implicit belief. Our results revealed no effects of immediate CRED or CRUD exposure on either implicit religious belief or three different measures of explicit religiosity. Instead, explicit (but not implicit) religiosity was predicted by past CRED exposure. Prospects and limitations of experimental approaches to CREDs/CRUDs are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
JournalReligion, Brain, and Behavior
Early online date15 Mar 2018
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online date - 15 Mar 2018

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title = "CREDs, CRUDs, and Catholic Scandals Experimentally examining the effects of religious paragon behaviour on co-religionist belief",
abstract = "Previous research on ‘Credibility Enhancing Displays’ (CREDs) suggests that long-term exposure to religious role models ‘practicing what they preach’ aids the acceptance of religious representations by cultural learners. Likewise, a considerable amount of anecdotal evidence implicates its opposite, perceived ‘religious hypocrisy’ (forthwith ‘Credibility Undermining Displays’ or ‘CRUDs’), as a factor in the rejection of religion. However, there is currently little causal evidence on whether behaviours of either kind displayed by religious authorities directly affect pre-existing religious belief. The current study investigated this question by priming Irish self-identified ‘Catholic Christian’ participants with either a clerical ‘CRED’ or ‘CRUD’ and subsequently measuring levels of explicit and implicit belief. Our results revealed no effects of immediate CRED or CRUD exposure on either implicit religious belief or three different measures of explicit religiosity. Instead, explicit (but not implicit) religiosity was predicted by past CRED exposure. Prospects and limitations of experimental approaches to CREDs/CRUDs are discussed.",
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