The effect of religious imagery on following suggestions for risk-taking

Jessica Marie Shenberger Trujillo, University of Texas at El Paso


Events such as "9/11" show that religion can be used to promote negative social behavior. The aim of the current study was to test whether religious imagery leads individuals to follow suggestions for increased risk-taking behaviors. The current study used culturally relevant positive and negative religious imagery primes (i.e., Virgin de Guadalupe and Santa Muerte) as well as positive and negative non- religious imagery primes (i.e., Frida Kahlo and La Malinche) and measured the extent to which individuals followed a confederate's suggestions to engage in risky behaviors on a Balloon Analogue Risk Task (BART). Individuals varied in the number of over inflations on the BART (our measure of risk) as a function of confederate suggestion and religious versus non-religious imagery. As predicted, the effect for confederate suggestion led to greater increased risk taking in the religious imagery condition than in the non-religious imagery condition. The findings have important implications for current narco-terrorism in Ciudad Juarez, and in other locations where terrorists use religious imagery to manipulate gang members. The findings demonstrate that when individuals are exposed to religious concepts, they are more susceptible to the influence of others to engage in risky behaviors.

Subject Area

Religion|Philosophy|Social psychology

Recommended Citation

Shenberger Trujillo, Jessica Marie, "The effect of religious imagery on following suggestions for risk-taking" (2013). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI1539996.