Document Type

Honors Thesis


Psychology, Sociology


Jordan P. LaBouff

Committee Members

Cynthia A. Erdley, Benjamin A. Guenther, Brian Pitman

Graduation Year

May 2022

Publication Date

Spring 5-2022


Although religious teachings typically recommend prosocial behavior, religiosity is reliably linked to prejudice. This paradoxical relationship raises the question: what is it about religion that might lead to prejudice despite religion’s apparent drive for prosociality? The answer may lie with religious fundamentalism, a particularly rigid way of holding one’s religious beliefs as the single deepest and most certain source of truth. We propose that religious fundamentalism mediates the relationship between religiosity and prejudice. We also seek to explore the influence of three facets of inflexible thinking (belief rigidity, dualism, and inviolacy) on the relationship between religious fundamentalism and prejudice.

We looked specifically at prejudice against Muslims in a Christian sample for several reasons: 1) Christians see Muslims as a value-violating outgroup and previous research has linked Christian religious fundamentalism to anti-Muslim prejudice, 2) prejudice against Muslims in the U.S. is common, and 3) anti-Muslim prejudice in the U.S. is not as stigmatized as many other forms of prejudice, making it easier to measure directly.

To test this mediation, we used an online survey of an all-Christian sample (n=195) of American college students collected at the University of Maine. Participants completed multiple measures of religiosity, prejudice against Muslims, and religious fundamentalism, as well as measures of belief rigidity, dualism, and inviolacy. Mediation analyses showed that religiosity is linked to prejudice only through the mechanism of religious fundamentalism, and that dualism and belief rigidity may be useful in further explaining the link between religious fundamentalism and prejudice.

Included in

Religion Commons