Christian Religious Badges Instill Trust in Christian and Non-Christian Perceivers

Michael McCullough, Paul Swartwout, John H. Shaver, Evan C. Carter, Richard Sosis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Scopus citations


We conducted 4 experiments to examine how people incorporate visual information about strangers' religious identities-religious badges-into their decisions about how much to trust them. Experiment 1 revealed that Christian and non-Christian participants were more trusting (as measured by self-report) of targets who wore a religious badge associated with Christianity (Ash Wednesday ashes) than toward targets who did not wear such a badge. Experiment 2 replicated Experiment 1 and also revealed that the effects of Ash Wednesday ashes on Christians' and non-Christians' trust extended to a behavioral measure of trust (i.e., monetary allocations in a multiplayer trust game). Experiment 3 replicated Experiments 1 and 2 with a different religious badge (a necklace with the Christian cross on it). Experiment 4 ruled out a potential confound. Consistent with a stereotype interpretation, these results suggest that U.S. students regard visual cues to people's espousal of Christian religious beliefs as signals of their trustworthiness. (PsycINFO Database Record

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPsychology of Religion and Spirituality
StateAccepted/In press - Sep 28 2015


  • Experimental economics
  • Religion
  • Religious badges
  • Signaling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Religious studies

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