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Physiology and Faith: Addressing the “Universal” Gender Difference in Religious Commitment

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That men are less religious than women is a generalization that holds around the world and across the centuries. However, there has been virtually no study of this phenomenon because it has seemed so obvious that it is the result of differential sex role socialization. Unfortunately, actual attempts to isolate socialization effects on gender differences in religiousness have failed, as have far more frequent and careful efforts to explain gender differences in crime. There is a growing body of plausible evidence in support of physiological bases for gender differences in crime. Making the assumption that, like crime, irreligiousness is an aspect of a general syndrome of short–sighted, risky behaviors leads to the conclusion that male irreligiousness may also have a physiological basis. If nothing else, this article may prompt creative efforts to salvage the socialization explanation.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Washington

Publication date: September 1, 2002

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