Here’s a bit of fascinating scientific fodder for your brain today. People who believe in God are more likely to cheat on tests. Counterintuitive, right? This goes for people who believe God is a caring, forgiving God. Those who believe that God is mean and punishing are too scared of going to hell, which is right where a mean, punishing God plans on sending them, after he makes them suffer. Ready your hairshirt!
But we digress. Psychology researchers from the University of Oregon and the University of British Columbia did two experiments involving college students and a math test. The students were told that there was a software glitch that would make the right answer to each problem appear after a few seconds, and that they should press the space bar immediately after viewing each problem, before finding their solution “without scratch paper or calculators.” Challenging work for the typical English major.
Whether or not they used the space bar to avoid seeing the right answer was measured, and the students were then asked about their views of God, religiosity, and demographics. The second experiment surveyed participants about their views on God several days before the test.
In both cases, “students who believed in a loving God were the most likely to cheat,” with those believing in a punitive God not doing anything bad, not at all, never!
Of course, results are preliminary, and if the answers are right there in front of you, doesn’t God kinda want you to see them? We think so.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 20, 2011