WTF Fun Fact 13661 – Faith and Risk Taking

A recent study from York University’s Faculty of Health reveals an intriguing link between faith and risk-taking. The research, led by Assistant Professor Cindel White, looked into how beliefs about a protective God influence Christians’ willingness to take risks.

The study, published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, suggests that the belief in a benevolent deity can boost confidence in pursuing uncertain or potentially dangerous activities.

Findings About Faith and Risk Taking

White, along with collaborators Chloe Dean and Kristin Laurin from The University of British Columbia, focused on Christian Americans known for their belief in a protective God. The study avoided risks with moral connotations, like drug use, and instead examined ‘morally neutral’ risks.

These included recreational activities like mountain climbing and life decisions such as relocating for a job. The research revealed a reliable connection between these beliefs and an increased willingness to take such risks.

The findings do not necessarily suggest that religious individuals are more inclined to take risks than non-religious people. However, they highlight the role of religious beliefs in creating a sense of safety and positivity. Belief in a protective God appears to help believers cope with life’s uncertainties and stressors. This sense of security and positive outlook may encourage them to seize opportunities they might otherwise avoid.

Understanding the Psychological Safety Net

The study provides insights into how religious beliefs function as coping mechanisms. For many believers, the idea of a protective God offers a psychological safety net.

This belief may empower them to face challenges and uncertainties with more confidence. It’s not just about risk-taking; it’s about how faith shapes the approach to life’s varied situations.

The research has significant implications for understanding the decision-making process of religious individuals. It suggests that their faith could subtly influence choices in everyday life, from career moves to leisure activities.

This understanding could be crucial for psychologists, counselors, and even employers in recognizing the factors that drive the actions and choices of religious individuals.

Broader Perspective on Religious Beliefs

These findings open up a broader perspective on the role of religious beliefs in modern society. They shed light on the nuanced ways faith intersects with daily life, influencing not just moral decisions but also personal and professional risks.

As society becomes increasingly aware of diverse belief systems, such insights are vital for fostering understanding and respect across different cultural and religious backgrounds.

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Source: “Thinking about God inspires risk-taking for believers, study finds” — ScienceDaily

WTF Fun Fact 13596 – Morality Judgment

A new study found that we tend to reserve our harshest morality judgment is reserved those within our social circle.

Morality Judgment within Groups

We often assume that we judge those close to us with a gentler touch. Yet, Cornell University’s latest findings suggest otherwise: we tend to be stricter with our own peers, especially when it comes to moral failings.

Morality, the invisible bond that keeps a community united, often sets the standards for judgment. Simone Tang, a significant contributor to the research, states that our ties within a group make us believe its members are more trustworthy. However, a breach in moral conduct by one of our own can potentially tarnish the entire group’s reputation. As a result, to safeguard the group’s integrity, we might end up being more critical of our own members.

The Dynamics of Ingroup vs. Outgroup

Members of the “ingroup” usually have something in common – be it political beliefs, organizational ties, or even nationality. On the flip side, the “outgroup” represents individuals from different backgrounds, nationalities, or institutions. Despite conventional wisdom suggesting favoritism towards ingroup members, the study points out that moral transgressions by ingroup members often invite stricter judgments.

Engaging 2,361 participants, a mix of university students and members of American online communities, the study unveiled intriguing patterns. Participants learned about inappropriate actions, either by an ingroup or an outgroup member. A clear distinction emerged when comparing reactions to moral violations like gender discrimination with non-moral ones like tardiness. Ingroup members committing moral violations faced tougher criticism, hinting at the value people place on preserving the moral fabric of their community.

Real-world Implications

Shedding light on larger societal issues, Tang highlights the implications of their findings in contemporary politics. The growing polarization might not just be an ‘us versus them’ scenario. Instead, as the research suggests, harsh judgments against opposing views may arise from viewing adversaries as part of the same larger group, say, fellow Americans. This perspective shift offers a fresh lens to understand the rising internal divisions within major societal groups.

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Source: “Familiarity breeds contempt for moral failings” — ScienceDaily

WTF Fun Fact 12408 – Meaty Moral Questions

If you’re fully committed to eating meat regardless of what anyone tells you, you may not find this compelling. But the question of why so many of us continue to eat meat despite 1) loving animals and 2) knowing the environmental wreckage the meat industries cause to the planet is – at the very least – an interesting philosophical question. A so-called “Meat Paradox,” if you will.

Put aside your actual choice and your own defenses for a second and consider what a curious situation it really is. We’re not saying everyone should become vegetarians, but ethically speaking, it makes sense to do so if you’re an animal lover and/or concerned about the planet.

Not convinced about the planetary consequences? That’s ok; it’s rare to be taught about them, to begin with! Here’s a great set of facts from IFL Science, a website devoted to translating scientific research for the rest of us, without judgment:

“Raising livestock for meat, eggs, and milk accounts for roughly 14% of all man-made greenhouse gas emissions. Beef production is the biggest driver of forest loss within agriculture. The meat industry has been linked to a host of other environmental harms, including water pollution.

Eating too much meat can be bad for your health too, particularly red and processed meat which is thought to increase your risk of developing colorectal cancer. Feeding the world’s appetite for meat costs the lives of billions of animals a year, and animal welfare is a concern on farms worldwide, with pigscows, and chickens often subject to overcrowding, open wounds, and disease.”

People get all sorts of sensitive and defensive when it comes to their life choices (which we don’t care about one way or another). So remember that this is purely an ethical inquiry: If we love animals and care about the planet, how do so many of us eat meat without guilt?

The answer? Well, some of us do feel guilty or queasy about it, but it’s so ingrained in our culture that meat-eating is unproblematic that we just go for it. But for others, it requires a little trick of the brain that we don’t even realize is going on. It’s called “moral disengagement,” and it’s exactly what it sounds like. We have to disengage from thinking about the moral implications of what we’re doing. And we do it in many ways, including:

  1. Telling ourselves we’re just one person/family and our own meat consumption doesn’t affect much.
  2. Trying to remove animals from the equation and eating meat that doesn’t look much like a formerly breathing thing – like chicken nuggets or burgers.
  3. Avoiding cooking our own meat so we don’t have to deal with the “raw materials.”
  4. Not referring to certain meats as animals. For example, calling cow meat “beef.” (This doesn’t really work for the winged animal world though.)
  5. Convincing ourselves (or letting others convince us) that eating meat is necessary for health. (And while we can’t speak to others’ medical conditions, there’s no condition that requires as much meat as most of us eat.)

We’re sure you can think of others. And, you never know, maybe you’ll learn something interesting about yourself if you stop and think about how you eat meat without picturing the animals they once were.

Self-inquiry is a bit of a lost art, but no one said you had to tell anyone the answers in your brain. Just use them to learn about yourself! It’s kind of cool to assess how our brains work. – WTF Fun Facts

Source: “The Meat Paradox: How Your Brain Wrestles With The Ethics Of Eating Animals” — IFL Science