Examining Responses To Theological Affiliation And Disaffiliation: Boundary Conditions And Causal Processes




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The current study was aimed at examining responses toward theological affiliation and disaffiliation for believers in God and non-believers in God. The current study compared the reactions toward each of four possible classifications of the target group member by manipulating the target's past and present theological belief status: ingroup member, joiner, defector, or outgroup member. The sample included 268 undergraduates (believers in God [n = 150]; non-believers in God [n = 118]) at a public university in the southern US. Participants believed another person was also participating in the study and rated the target individual on a variety of overt and covert dependent measures. A main effect for present status was found such that the outgroup members were rated significantly less positively than the ingroup members. This effect was moderated by Ingroup Identification. Group Image Validation and Expectancy Violation served as mediators for the believers in God but not for the non-believers in God. The mediation model was moderated by ingroup identification. Theoretical implications are discussed.