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A Mean God Makes Better Students

May 5, 2011

I just recently ran across an article from last week LA Times:

Study links willingness to cheat, viewpoint on God

A new study on the link between one’s view of God and willingness to cheat on a test is the latest example of social scientists wading into the highly charged field of religion and morality.

The study, titled “Mean Gods Make Good People: Different Views of God Predict Cheating Behavior” was peer reviewed and published earlier this month in the International Journal for the Psychology of Religion.

In line with many previous studies, it found no difference between the ethical behavior of believers and nonbelievers. But those who believed in a loving, compassionate God were more likely to cheat than those who believed in an angry, punitive God.

“The take-home message is not whether you believe in God, but what God you believe in,” said Azim Shariff, a psychologist at the University of Oregon. Shariff conducted the study with psychologist Ara Norenzayan, who had been his doctoral advisor at the University of British Columbia.

Read the rest of the article here. The emphasis is mine.

I’m not quite sure what to do with this data as an educator, but it again shows that issues of plagiarism and cheating go far beyond simple issues of education and awareness.

One Comment
  1. May 7, 2011 1:25 pm

    I used to pray with students before major exams. From now on, I’m going to simply remind them weekly that God is watching them and sees everything. I might make a papier-maché model of the worm that never dies.

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