Religion and Intergroup Conflict: Findings From the Global Group Relations Project

Steven L. Neuberg, Carolyn M. Warner, Stephen A. Mistler, Anna Berlin, Eric D. Hill, Jordan D. Johnson, Gabrielle Filip-Crawford, Roger E. Millsap, George Thomas, Michael Winkelman, Benjamin J. Broome, Thomas J. Taylor, Juliane Schober

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


How might religion shape intergroup conflict? We tested whether religious infusion-the extent to which religious rituals and discourse permeate the everyday activities of groups and their members-moderated the effects of two factors known to increase intergroup conflict: competition for limited resources and incompatibility of values held by potentially conflicting groups. We used data from the Global Group Relations Project to investigate 194 groups (e.g., ethnic, religious, national) at 97 sites around the world. When religion was infused in group life, groups were especially prejudiced against those groups that held incompatible values, and they were likely to discriminate against such groups. Moreover, whereas disadvantaged groups with low levels of religious infusion typically avoided directing aggression against their resource-rich and powerful counterparts, disadvantaged groups with high levels of religious infusion directed significant aggression against them-despite the significant tangible costs to the disadvantaged groups potentially posed by enacting such aggression. This research suggests mechanisms through which religion may increase intergroup conflict and introduces an innovative method for performing nuanced, cross-societal research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)198-206
Number of pages9
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2014


  • competition
  • cross-cultural
  • cross-cultural differences
  • global
  • intergroup conflict
  • intergroup dynamics
  • methods
  • prejudice
  • religion
  • religious beliefs
  • resources
  • values
  • violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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