Based on her honors thesis with advisor Dr. Van Cappellen during her undergraduate years at Duke University, Gwyn Reece has published her first paper!
Reece, G. A., Van Tongeren, D. R., & Van Cappellen, P. (In press). Eternal outgroups: Afterlife beliefs predict prejudice. Personality and Individual Differences, 214. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2023.112352
Both religious and nonreligious people hold beliefs about what happens after death. The eternal criteria embedded in afterlife beliefs – for example, what happens for the morally good versus the morally bad — may implicate intergroup attitudes and behavior in the present.
The set of 4 studies aimed to investigate whether and how afterlife beliefs have direct implications for real-life intergroup prejudice.
In Study 1, religious afterlife beliefs were associated with more prejudice towards nonreligious people. In extension, Study 2 used nationally representative archival data and found that among religious people, specific beliefs in hell and heaven mediated the association between religiosity and prejudice towards atheists. In Study 3, religious afterlife beliefs continued to be associated with prejudice towards value-threatening outgroup members, even when controlling for religiosity. This was shown in a specific context in Study 4: Christians with exclusionary views of heaven expressed more prejudice towards atheists than those with inclusionary views.
Together, these studies show that both religious and secular afterlife beliefs relate to prejudice towards value-incongruent outgroup members, consistent with the group exclusionary hypothesis. Specific religious afterlife beliefs, such as hell or heaven, explain some of the association between religiosity and prejudice against ideologically dissimilar groups.