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Shame and Punishment: An International Comparative Study on the Effects of Religious Affiliation and Religiosity on Attitudes to Offending

NCJ Number
European Journal of Criminology Volume: 6 Issue: 6 Dated: November 2009 Pages: 481-495
Ferry Koster; Heike Goudriaan; Coen van der Schans
Date Published
November 2009
15 pages
This study investigated the effects of religious affiliation and religiosity on social norms in relation to victimless crimes.
Results show that religion leads to a stronger condemnation of the commission of victimless crimes via external sanctions (owing to religious affiliations) as well as internal sanctions (owing to the internalization of norms). Internal sanctions are shown to have a stronger effect than external sanctions on the condemnation of victimless crimes. This study demonstrates that the attitudes people have towards these offenses are influenced in two ways: by belonging to a particular religion and by the internalization of norms. Although it is important to take account of people's religious affiliation, it has been shown that citizens' religiosity is of even greater importance when trying to explain public reactions to criminal behavior. Future studies should further develop the distinction between belonging to a religion and religiosity and test their effects on alternative norms or behavior. Further study is needed to answer the extent to which external and internal sanctions are relevant for norms in other areas such as attitudes towards the family, work, and politics. Data were collected from 128,243 persons across 70 countries. Tables and references