Date: Thursday Dec. 1, 2011 10:15 AM PT
Atheists are distrusted to roughly the same degree as rapists, according to a new University of British Columbia study exploring distaste for disbelievers.
The research, led by UBC psychology doctoral student Will Gervais, found distrust to be the central factor motivating antagonism toward atheists among the religious.
“Where there are religious majorities – that is, in most of the world – atheists are among the least trusted people,” Gervais said in a release.
The results suggested anti-atheist prejudice was characterized by distrust, while anti-gay prejudice was characterized by disgust.
For another part of the study, 105 UBC students between the ages of 18 and 25 were presented with a description of an untrustworthy person – an “archetypal freerider” who committed selfish and illegal acts when he thought he could get away with it.
Subjects were more likely to find the description representative of atheists than Christians, Muslims, gay men, feminists or Jewish people. Only rapists were similarly distrusted.
“People did not significantly differentiate atheists from rapists,” the study said.