The Effects of Prosperity Gospel Theology on Generosity Open Access

Paik, Sarah Suhyeon (2016)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/6395w743r?locale=en
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Abstract

Using a modified version of the dictator game, this paper examines the effects of theology, specifically a prosperity gospel theology which focuses on God's desire for Christians to be materially wealthy, on giving behavior. 59 students from Christian gatherings on Emory's campus were exposed to short sermons and then played a version of the dictator game in which they could choose to transfer money to the Christian organization at which recruitment took place. Participants were randomly placed in a control group, which was shown a sermon that focused on God's grace, or a treatment group, which was shown a sermon which emphasized God's desire and ability to make Christians rich. We observed a statistically significant and negative effect of the treatment on giving behavior. Participants who were primed with the Prosperity Gospel gave less than those who were primed with a theologically conservative sermon. Our research suggests that an explicit focus on God as a source of wealth does not encourage increased generosity toward religious causes.

Table of Contents

I. Introduction ...........................................................................................................................1 II. Literature Review ..................................................................................................................1 III. Methods ..............................................................................................................................12 IV. Results ................................................................................................................................15 V. Discussion............................................................................................................................27 VI. Conclusion..........................................................................................................................29 Figure 1: Frequency Distribution of Race .............................................................................................. 16 Figure 2: Frequency Distribution of Denomination ................................................................................ 16 Figure 3: Frequency of Amount Given................................................................................................... 19 Figure 4: Frequency of Amount Given (Comparison)............................................................................. 19 Figure 5: Distribution of Religious Giving............................................................................................. 23 Table 1: Description of Variables and Summary Statistics ..................................................................... 17 Table 2: Hypothesis Test for Difference in Means.................................................................................. 18 Table 3: Regression of Treatment on Amount Given.............................................................................. 21 Table 4: Regression of Variables on Amount Given............................................................................... 21 Table 5: Regression of Variables on Religious Giving ........................................................................... 24 Table 6: Preliminary Regressions........................................................................................................... 26

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