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Concept: Christianity


Though religion has been shown to have generally positive effects on normative ‘prosocial’ behavior, recent laboratory research suggests that these effects may be driven primarily by supernatural punishment. Supernatural benevolence, on the other hand, may actually be associated with less prosocial behavior. Here, we investigate these effects at the societal level, showing that the proportion of people who believe in hell negatively predicts national crime rates whereas belief in heaven predicts higher crime rates. These effects remain after accounting for a host of covariates, and ultimately prove stronger predictors of national crime rates than economic variables such as GDP and income inequality. Expanding on laboratory research on religious prosociality, this is the first study to tie religious beliefs to large-scale cross-national trends in pro- and anti-social behavior.

Concepts: Belief, Truth, Faith, Sociology, Science, Religion, Society, Christianity


Though beliefs in Heaven and Hell are related, they are associated with different personality characteristics and social phenomena. Here we present three studies measuring Heaven and Hell beliefs' associations with and impact on subjective well-being. We find that a belief in Heaven is consistently associated with greater happiness and life satisfaction while a belief in Hell is associated with lower happiness and life satisfaction at the national (Study 1) and individual (Study 2) level. An experimental priming study (Study 3) suggests that these differences are mainly driven by the negative emotional impact of Hell beliefs. Possible cultural evolutionary explanations for the persistence of such a distressing religious concept are discussed.

Concepts: Life, Belief, Truth, Faith, English-language films, Religion, Christianity, Unbelieving


As of July 15, 2015, the South Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare had reported 186 case-patients with Middle East respiratory syndrome in South Korea. For 159 case-patients with known outcomes and complete case histories, we found that older age and preexisting concurrent health conditions were risk factors for death.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Asia, South Korea, Korea, North Korea, World War II, Korean War, Christianity


Abstract Although the attitudes towards homosexuality have become more liberal, particularly in industrialized Western countries, there is still a great deal of variance in terms of the worldwide levels of homonegativity. Using data from the two most recent waves of the World Values Survey (1999-2004, 2005-2009) this article seeks to explain this variance by means of a multi-level analysis of 79 countries. We include characteristics on the individual level, as age or gender, as well as aggregate variables linked to specificities of the nation-states. In particular, we focus on the religious denomination of a person and her religiosity in order to explain her attitude towards homosexuality. We find clear differences in levels of homonegativity among the followers of the individual religions.

Concepts: Metaphysics, Religion, Morality, Abstraction, Islam, Philosophical terminology, Christianity, Societal attitudes toward homosexuality


Recent neuroimaging research has revealed stronger empathic neural responses to same-race compared to other-race individuals. Is the in-group favouritism in empathic neural responses specific to race identification or a more general effect of social identification-including those based on religious/irreligious beliefs? The present study investigated whether and how intergroup relationships based on religious/irreligious identifications modulate empathic neural responses to others' pain expressions. We recorded event-related brain potentials from Chinese Christian and atheist participants while they perceived pain or neutral expressions of Chinese faces that were marked as being Christians or atheists. We found that both Christian and atheist participants showed stronger neural activity to pain (versus neutral) expressions at 132-168 ms and 200-320 ms over the frontal region to those with the same (versus different) religious/irreligious beliefs. The in-group favouritism in empathic neural responses was also evident in a later time window (412-612 ms) over the central/parietal regions in Christian but not in atheist participants. Our results indicate that the intergroup relationship based on shared beliefs, either religious or irreligious, can lead to in-group favouritism in empathy for others' suffering.

Concepts: Psychology, Brain, Neuroscience, Religion, Event-related potential, Christianity, Atheism, Irreligion


OBJECTIVE: The present study describes the consumption patterns of sweetened food and drink products in a Catholic Middle Eastern Canadian community and examines its associations with physical activity, sedentary behaviours and BMI. DESIGN: A two-stage cross-sectional design was used. In Stage 1 (n 42), 24 h recalls enabled the identification of sweetened products. In Stage 2 (n 192), an FFQ was administered to measure the daily consumption of these products and to collect sociodemographic and behavioural data. Sweetened products were defined as processed culinary ingredients and ultra-processed products for which total sugar content exceeded 20 % of total energy. SETTING: Three Catholic Middle Eastern churches located in Montreal, Canada. SUBJECTS: Normoglycaemic men and women (18-60 years old). RESULTS: Twenty-six sweetened products represented an average consumption of 75·4 g total sugars/d or 15·1 % of daily energy intake (n 190, 56 % women). Soft drinks, juices, sweetened coffee, chocolate, cookies, cakes and muffins were the main sources of consumption and mostly consumed between meals. Age (exp (β) = 0·99; P < 0·01), physical activity (exp (β) = 1·08; P < 0·01) and recreational computer use (exp (β) = 1·17; P < 0·01) were independently associated with sweetened product consumption. The association between sweetened product consumption and physical activity was U-shaped. BMI was not significantly associated with sweetened product consumption but all participants regardless of BMI were above the WHO recommendation for free sugars. CONCLUSIONS: Being physically active and spending less time using a computer may favour a reduced consumption of sweetened products. Very active individuals may, however, overconsume such products.

Concepts: Energy, Physics, Obesity, Muscle, Overweight, Coffee, Sugar, Christianity


People tend to exhibit a leftward bias in posing. Various studies suggest that posing to the left portrays a stronger emotion, whereas posing to the right portrays a more neutral emotion. Religions such as Christianity emphasize the role of strong emotions in religious experience, whereas religions such as Buddhism emphasize the calming of emotions as being important. In the present study, we investigated if the emphasis on emotionality of a religion influences the depiction of their religious figures. Specifically, we coded 484 paintings of Jesus and Buddha from online art databases for whether the deity exhibited a left bias, right bias, or central face presentation. The posing biases were analysed to discover whether paintings of Jesus would more frequently depict a leftward bias than paintings of Buddha. Jesus is more commonly depicted with a leftward bias than Buddha, and Buddha is more commonly depicted with a central face presentation than Jesus. These findings support the idea that the amount of emotionality that is to be conveyed in artwork influences the whether the subject is posed with a leftward bias.

Concepts: Left-wing politics, Religion, Islam, Buddhism, Political spectrum, French Revolution, Christianity, God


In this article, I analyze the practices of a group of Catholic nuns who run shelters for ‘victims of human trafficking’ in Italy, and are thus involved in state-funded rehabilitation programs for former foreign prostitutes. This case shows how the state and the Church are deeply implicated in each other’s projects of redemption and the creation of new forms of life. In Italy, the legal model for rehabilitating foreign prostitutes is avowedly secular yet also deeply shaped by a Catholic impetus to purify sinners. At the same time, however, the nuns themselves develop an understanding of redemption as a secular life-saving project in line with the state’s project of recognition, and thus inscribe their practices within the biopolitical effort to transform lives. Ultimately, I argue, leading by example becomes a specific Catholic instantiation of biopolitics that characterizes both the state’s and the Church’s approach to foreigners.

Concepts: State, Project, Christianity, Human trafficking, Biopolitics, Christian terms, Catholic Church, Nun


Purpose of the Study: Research has linked several aspects of religion-including service attendance, prayer, meditation, religious coping strategies, congregational support systems, and relations with God, among others-with positive mental health outcomes among older U.S. adults. This study examines a neglected dimension of religious life: listening to religious music.

Concepts: Religion, Personal life, Meditation, Christianity, Spirituality, Prayer, Mantra, Mysticism


We investigated the kinetics of the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) neutralizing and spike protein antibody titers over the course of 1 year in 11 patients who were confirmed by reverse transcription PCR to have been infected during the outbreak in South Korea in 2015. Robust antibody responses were detected in all survivors who had severe disease; responses remained detectable, albeit with some waning, for <1 year. The duration of viral RNA detection (but not viral load) in sputum significantly correlated with the antibody response magnitude. The MERS S1 ELISA antibody titers correlated well with the neutralizing antibody response. Antibody titers in 4 of 6 patients who had mild illness were undetectable even though most had evidence of pneumonia. This finding implies that MERS-CoV seroepidemiologic studies markedly underestimate the extent of mild and asymptomatic infection. Obtaining convalescent-phase plasma with high antibody titers to treat MERS will be challenging.

Concepts: Antibody, Protein, Disease, Bacteria, Middle East, Asia, World War II, Christianity