UBC Study, led by Will Gervais concludes that “People did not significantly differentiate atheists from rapists.”
A sample of 351 Americans between the ages of 18 and 82 were quizzed on their feelings for each group. Sixty-seven per cent or subjects were Christian while 14 per cent said they did not believe in god.
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.
Researchers hope the study, considered among the first to probe the psychology behind anti-atheist sentiments, will offer clues on how to combat the prejudice.