Globalization Predicts Reduced Religiosity Across Time and Cultures

Caluori, Nava, Psychology - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Brown-Iannuzzi, Jazmin, AS-Psychology, University of Virginia


Recent increases in nonreligion are a puzzling development given the longstanding stability of religion throughout human history. How can we explain this recent shift away from our species’ religious roots? The present research examines the role of globalization in this dynamic. Increasing globalization brings the promise of interaction and integration among a diverse set of people worldwide and may increase acceptance of different religions. This religious acceptance, in turn, may disrupt the social learning processes that are critical to reinforcing religious belief on a large scale. We test these predictions through a series of multi-method studies. Using international and longitudinal data, we find that national globalization is related to reduced individual religiosity (Study 1) and that globalization precedes decreases in religiosity over time (Study 2). This relationship replicates within the United States, with residents of more interconnected counties displaying lower levels of religiosity (Study 3). A novel manipulation of globalization leads people to assume that others will find religion less important (Study 4), and increased religious acceptance in the face of globalization mediates this effect (Studies 4 and 5). Further, experimentally manipulating religious acceptance causes decreased religiosity (Study 6). Together, these studies provide evidence that globalization can cause reduced religiosity, and that increased religious acceptance plays a key role in this process.

MA (Master of Arts)
Religion, Globalization, Culture, Social Learning
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