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Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2011 Aug;37(8):1091-103. doi: 10.1177/0146167211406508. Epub 2011 Apr 27.

The conflicting influences of religiosity on attitude toward torture.

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Yeshiva University, New York, NY 10033, USA.


This research examines the thesis that religiosity has conflicting influences on Americans' attitudes about the use of torture on terrorism suspects: an organic influence favoring opposition to torture and a discursively driven influence favoring support of torture. In each of two national samples, religiosity had both a direct effect toward opposition to torture and an indirect effect-via conservative political alignment-toward support of torture. Multiple-group analyses revealed that the direct effect toward opposition to torture did not vary across Americans with differing levels of exposure to political discourse, whereas the indirect effect toward support of torture via conservative political alignment was much stronger among Americans highly exposed to political discourse. Among such individuals, the indirect effect was so strong that it completely counteracted the competing direct effect. Discussion focuses on the competing influences that a single nonpolitical psychological characteristic may have on a political preference.

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