The effects of religious references on identity salience and social behaviors

Jessica Marie Shenberger-Trujillo, University of Texas at El Paso


In the aftermath of 9/11 and other terrorist attacks on U.S. soil (e.g., the Boston bombings) researchers began to empirically investigate the conditions under which religion can lead to supporting or committing violence. The contradictory findings for the effects of religious references on both positive and negative behavior call for a closer examination of individual or contextual factors that influence the effect of religion on social behaviors. To address these contradictory findings and to identify the underlying mechanism involved, Study 1 examined the extent to which god-related or church-related religious references impact the salience of individual or group identities. Study 2 served two goals: (1) to test the extent exposure to religious references increases self-ratings of attitude certainty and ratings of the extent to which one's stance is the correct stance (2) to test under what conditions the influence of religious references will lead to increased support for collective action or over-claiming of religious knowledge. Results suggest that religious references, in general, produce greater group identity salience. The current research develops our understanding of how religion influences individuals' engagement in social behaviors. Specifically, we have now identified group identity salience as one mechanism through which religion may influence social behaviors.

Subject Area

Social psychology

Recommended Citation

Shenberger-Trujillo, Jessica Marie, "The effects of religious references on identity salience and social behaviors" (2014). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI3623469.