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The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00426-012-0473-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Evidence suggests that religious systems have specific effects on attentional and action control processes. The present study investigated whether religions also modulate choices that involve higher-order knowledge and the delay of gratification in particular. We tested Dutch Calvinists, Italian Catholics, and Atheists from both countries/cultures using an intertemporal choice task where participants could choose between a small immediate and a larger delayed monetary reward. Based on the Calvinist theory of predestination and the Catholic concept of a cycle of sin–confession–expiation, we predicted a reduced delay tolerance, i.e., higher discount rate, for Italian Catholics than for Dutch Calvinists, and intermediate rates for the two atheist groups. Analyses of discount rates support our hypotheses. We also found a magnitude effect on temporal discounting and faster responses for large than for small rewards across religions and countries/cultures. We conclude that temporal discounting is specifically modulated by religious upbringing rather than by generic cultural differences.
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- Heaven can wait. How religion modulates temporal discounting
Anna M. Borghi
Lorenza S. Colzato
- Springer Berlin Heidelberg