CREDs, CRUDs, and Catholic scandals: experimentally examining the effects of religious paragon behavior on co-religionist belief

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  • Hugh Turpin, Queens University, Belfast, Ireland
  • Marc Malmdorf Andersen
  • Jonathan Lanman, Queen's University Belfast, Ireland
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 behaviors 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 and CRUDs are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
JournalReligion, Brain, and Behavior
Pages (from-to)143-155
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2019

    Research areas

  • Credibility-enhancing displays (CREDs), Irish Catholicism, credibility-undermining displays (CRUDs), religious hypocrisy

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