Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on ReligionInstitute for Studies of Relgion
IJRR :: 2019 Volume 15 :: Article 6
2019 Volume 15, Article 6
Virtues for Me or Virtues for You?: Patterns of the Perceptions of the Religious Virtues

Author: Michael A. McCann (Fuller Theological Seminary Pasadena, California), Douglas M. Stenstrom (California State University, Los Angeles, California)

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ABSTRACT

Is one virtue perceived as better than another? Although the seven deadly sins (SDS: gluttony, envy, greed, lust, pride, sloth, wrath) have received some degree of investigation, the corresponding contrary virtues have been relatively unaddressed. Similar to past research on the SDS we investigated how religious and nonreligious individuals in the United States distinguish the relative weight of the corresponding seven virtues (temperance, kindness, charity, chastity, humility, diligence, patience). The method involved used a survey-format of 16 questions in which respondents (N = 599, 254 males, 343 females) were asked to rate the corresponding seven virtues as well as answer demographic grouping variables. A repeated measures analysis of the sample found a cultural “virtue pattern” ranging from self-focused to other-focused and falling into a threshold-based responding for some groups. A mixed-factorial ANOVA analysis across different groups that were differentiated by gender, religion, age, marital status, and politics found moderating variables, including a “Chastity Effect” that has bearing on past research of the SDS. The results not only provide between-group moderating differentiation but also reveal patterns of responding for how contemporary society perceives virtues within and across religious and non-religious groups in the United States, including revealing two factor analysis clusters of Giving v. Withholding virtues.

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