Moral intuitions and religiosity as spuriously correlated life history traits

Paul Gladden, Jessica Welch, Aurelio Figueredo, W. Jacobs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Religions promote moral rules of behavior and religiosity is associated with some types of moral intuitions, but there is no ultimate-level explanation for this association. Religiosity has recently been used as an indicator of a multivariate measure of slow Life History (LH) strategy. In this study, we predicted that LH strategy relates to increased strength of moral intuitions as measured by morally dumbfounding intuitions, reactions to violations of the ethics of autonomy, community, and divinity, and disgust sensitivity. Results of an exploratory factor analysis revealed that a 3-factor solution was optimal: (1) Religiosity (2) Moral Intuitions, (3) LH strategy. Comparisons of three path-analytic structural models indicated that only one model had an acceptable fit. In that model, slow LH strategy directly influenced religiosity and moral intuitions, which were, as a result, spuriously correlated. We discuss implications for LH theory and for the relation between religion and moral intuitions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)167-184
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Evolutionary Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2009


  • Cooperation
  • Disgust
  • Life History theory
  • Moral intuitions
  • Religiosity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Anthropology


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