Are religious people nice people? religiosity, race, interview dynamics, and perceived cooperativeness

Kathleen M. Brennan, Andrew S. London

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Prior research has shown consistently that religiosity, as indexed by self-reported frequency of prayer, is associated positively with "niceness, " measured by interviewers' ratings of respondents' cooperativeness. We used data pooled from the 1983, 1988, and 1993 General Social Surveys to further examine the association between religiosity and niceness, and to raise questions about the adequacy of this currently preferred operationalization of niceness. We used three different measures of religiosity and directly examined racial differences in perceived cooperativeness. Our results indicate that each self-reported indicator of religiosity was associated positively with perceived cooperativeness (in separate models), while race was associated negatively. We found no evidence of mediating or moderating relationships. Overall, our results provide additional evidence that persons who are more religious are perceived by others to be more cooperative and that this effect operates net of more readily observable characteristics that might influence interview dynamics and interviewers' evaluations of respondents' cooperativeness. However, our results also suggest that new, more specific measures of niceness are needed to improve our ability to fully measure this sociologically important concept and to refine our understanding of the relationship between religiosity and niceness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129-144
Number of pages16
JournalSociological Inquiry
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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