Religious Activities, Religious Orientation, and Aggressive Behavior
Theorists and clinicians have long believed that religious practice may reduce aggression and other destructive behaviors. To date, most evidence for a relationship between religiosity and aggression comes from nonexperimental studies. The purpose of this exploratory study was twofold. First, to examine experimentally whether two religious practices reduce aggressive behavior; second, to determine if specific aspects of religious orientation and spiritual transcendence are related to level of aggression, expressed under controlled laboratory conditions. Sixty-two participants assigned to one of three experimental groups (memorize Bible passages, prayer/meditation, or control group) completed a laboratory task of aggression. Participants also completed religious and spirituality instruments, along with self-ratings of aggressive disposition. Results indicated that neither memorization of biblical passages nor meditation reduced aggression. Intrinsic-oriented religiosity participants self-reported lower aggression than extrinsic-oriented participants, but no differences were found on the laboratory task of aggression. Spiritual transcendence showed no behavioral aggression differences.
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion
Leach, M. M.,
Berman, M. E.,
(2008). Religious Activities, Religious Orientation, and Aggressive Behavior. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 47(2), 311-319.
Available at: http://aquila.usm.edu/fac_pubs/1549