Prior research shows that the correlation between religiosity and support for animal rights can be positive, negative, or zero. We hypothesized that this relationship may actually be curvilinear, where a moderate degree of religiosity may reduce support for killing animals (compared with non-religiosity or atheism), but a very high degree of religiosity (e.g., fundamentalism) might increase support for killing animals. We tested this hypothesis in a large sample of American undergraduate students, using a correlational study design with self-report measures of religiosity and of support for killing animals in different domains. The results indicated that, in support of our hypothesis, the relationship between religiosity and support for killing animals is curvilinear, as moderate levels of religiosity were related to less support for killing animals. People who were either not religious at all or very religious were the ones who most supported the killing of animals. Belief in God in itself was related to less support for killing animals. We then replicated the curvilinear relationship between religiosity and support for killing animals using data from four experiments from a previously published article on support for killing animals. We briefly consider possible explanations for these findings, the limitations of the study, and propose directions for future research. Overall, we believe that this study helps clarify the complex relationship between religiosity and support for killing animals, and advances the scientific understanding of the psychological forces that motivate people to support or object to the killing of animals.
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