Why Are you More Religious Than Others?

In evolutionary psychology, a person’s religious fervency has long been associated with two different theories.

The first is built around cooperation or working together toward a common goal. The other suggests people are more compelled to take leaps of faith for more physical reasons, specifically related to reproduction or sex.

A new study hopes to provide some clearer data on “What drives some people to be more religious than others?” by analyzing an extensive study involving more than a quarter of a million participants from 90 countries.

Senior researcher Jason Weeden and professor Robert Kurzban, of the School of Arts & Sciences at Penn State, found a person’s views on sexuality often predicted just how religious they would be much more than feelings about cooperation would.

Researchers looked at results from the World Values Survey and European Values Study for their findings. They wanted to compare how subjects attitudes on religion matched with their views on sex.

Behaviors were broken down into two groups: reproductive and moral. The moral grouping included so-called “cooperative morals” like not cheating on your taxes and not stealing from others.

Reproductive morals were determined by views on issues like homosexuality, abortion or casual sex.

These results were then matched with answers given on how deeply religious the subjects were.

“Once you know the difference between how people think about things like abortion, premarital sex and divorce, you don’t learn anything else about how religious they are by asking what they think about lying and stealing,” Weeden said. “When you make this comparison, it turns out that reproductive morals are the big, clear winner.”

“It’s clear that people in religious groups cooperate, but it’s never been clear that religious groups are more cooperative than other kinds of groups,” Kurzban added.


Sexual Rights is relative.

This is mainly because one’s rights are considered relative, something that could be subjectively defined…something that one should be given or taken. It is mostly esteemed from the individualistic cultures and doctrine such as the one in Northern America.

It is tightly woven within the sociopolitical system of a society, however, in my opinion Sexual Health could be a matter of objective measurement. Most people share the same body structures, physiology – the medicinal and health aspect – and also moral values which are by large universal. For example, assault, rape and aggressive encounters are frowned upon in all cultures, although they happen/reported more in some cultures more than others,it doesn’t mean that the predator doesn’t know that this is a wrong doing. Therefore I find it most helpful to use the concept of sexual health rather than sexual rights when working with various governments and groups across the world, especially when the general culture is more collective (moral values are highly valued) rather than individualistic (personal rights and freedom are more valued).

I first spoke about this at the Asian Federation of Sexology in Singapore more than ten years ago which then caused a huge reaction from the international organizations and activists but then gradually colleagues who are actually working in the field and with communities started to pick up this ideology and even better, after seeing measurable success they started promoting this idea on their own rights. We still have a long way to go to secure sexual health for all across the world but I am delighted to see that more and more colleagues are thinking about out-come based approaches rather than more emotionally charged and politically driven actions.

Would be interesting to see what you think…share your thoughts with me here.


True Friendship

A true friend is there for you when you’re down, and also is the one with whom you celebrate your success. As we are moving towards becoming more human doing than being, I observe that the second one is becoming harder to find these days.