Distrust & Anti-Atheist Prejudice

Interesting new paper from Gervais, Shariff and Norenzayan:

http://www2.psych.ubc.ca/~will/Gervais%20et%20al-%20Atheist%20Distrust.pdf

The experiments performed by Gervais et al. provide pretty convincing support for the thesis that anti-atheist prejudice manifests as distrust (rather than dislike, or disgust), and that it surfaces most strongly when the need for trust — as opposed to say, likeability, or pleasantness — is particularly salient. So, for example, prejudiced religious believers are inclined to suppose that, while it is fine for atheists to be waiters, it’s not fine for them to be teachers.

Note the claim (1203) that societal-level existential security –as guaranteed by many modern social institutions — is a robust predictor of reduced religious belief. Anti-atheist prejudice might be ‘rationalisable’ in circumstances in which religion has a signficant role as “social glue” — but those circumstances diminish if strong secular institutions that support societal-level existential security are established.

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