2015 Div. 36 Student Research Award Winners' Proposals

Love thy neighbor as thyself (and as thy in-group): Examining the effects of moral intuitions and intercessory prayer on generous behavior

This research proposal focuses on the way in which moral institutions and the discipline of prayer interact.

By Tyler Greenway and Abigail Shepherd Beyenberg

Our project investigates the effects of moral intuitions and intercessory prayer on generosity. Of particular interest for this project is the manner in which moral intuitions and the discipline of prayer interact. Research has found that both moral intuitions and prayer have an effect on virtuous behavior, but their interaction remains under investigated. This study specifically examines how intercessory prayer interacts with the moral intuition of in-group/loyalty, which previous research has found is emphasized primarily by political conservatives, but not liberals. We hypothesize that the in-group/loyalty intuition will have less of an effect on generous behavior among liberals, who rarely utilize this moral intuition, than conservatives, who often utilize this moral intuition. We also hypothesize that intercessory prayer will help improve generous behavior towards out-group members. Results will provide insight into the nature of the interaction of virtuous attitudes and behaviors toward in-group and out-group members, cognition and religiosity.