Opposition to short-term mating predicts anti-atheist prejudice

Jordan W. Moon, Jaimie Arona Krems, Adam B. Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Which people are most likely to harbor prejudice toward atheists? Recent research suggests that perceptions of (non)religious individuals tend to track lifestyle (i.e., family and sexual) choices. We draw on this work, proposing that anti-atheist prejudice stems, in part, from the conflict that arises among competing mating strategies. Across four studies (N = 1855), we confirmed that anti-atheist prejudice is related to stereotypes about atheists' mating strategies (Pilot Study); we further found that people who favor committed mating strategies express greater levels of anti-atheist prejudice, even controlling for their beliefs about cooperation (Study 1a) and religiosity (Study 1b). Finally, this effect holds even when using a semi-implicit measure of prejudice, again controlling for religiosity (Study 2). These results suggest that mating strategies provide one source of individual differences in prejudice toward atheists, consistent with the notion that this prejudice may reflect perceived differences in lifestyle rather than just abstract theological disagreements or ingroup bias.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number110136
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
StatePublished - Oct 15 2020


  • Atheism
  • Evolutionary psychology
  • Mating strategies
  • Prejudice
  • Religion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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