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Previous research has indicated that physical attractiveness can “radiate” or spill over onto an interaction partner. This study examined the possible radiating effect of a newly discovered social stereotype, religiousness. Males (N=56) and females (N=119) college students initially rated the religiousness of a male target and then each subject read one of five scenarios describing the male's dating partner's religious background. The female's religious background was described in four ways: 1) Always religious, 2) Recent religious convert, 3) Recent religious heretic, 4) Never religious, and a fifth control condition which omitted information on the female's religious background. Following presentation of the scenarios, subjects again rated the boyfriend's religiousness. Analysis of pre- vs. post- scenario change scores indicated the boyfriend's religiousness increased following knowledge of the girlfriend's long-term or recent religious involvement (positive radiation effect) but decreased following knowledge of the girlfriend's long-term or recent nonreligious involvement (negative radiation effect). It was concluded that the radiation effects identified can serve to further expand our understanding of the interpersonal perceptions people hold of the religious and nonreligious.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2224/sbp.1990.18.2.201

Publication date: January 1, 1990

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