Religious costly signal induces more trustworthiness than secular costly signal : A study of pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela

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Year of publication 2023
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source European Journal of Social Psychology
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Keywords costly signalling; pilgrimage; religion; Santiago de Compostela; trustworthiness
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Description Research suggests that costly displays of commitment increase trust and cooperation. In five studies (total n > 1,700), we investigated whether costly behaviours are more effective in promoting trust when integrated within a religious rather than secular context using the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela as a costly display of commitment. First, we show that pilgrims base their pilgrim identity on physical effort (Studies 1A and 1B).Next, in three pre-registered experiments (Studies 2–4) with the Spanish population, we compared the trustworthiness of people posting on Facebook about their participation in a religious pilgrimage and a secular pilgrimage/hike with various control posts. The results showed that pilgrims/hikers are perceived as more trustworthy than non-pilgrims and that long-distance pilgrims are perceived as more trustworthy than short-distance pilgrims.Moreover, these effects are stronger when the pilgrimage is framed in a religious context compared to a secular context. Our research highlights the key role of religion in the costly signalling of commitment.
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