Why are women more religious than men? A psychologist explains

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We know that, in most churches, there are typically going to be more women than men.  Also, younger men are going to less present than older men.  This psychologist says that much of the differential between men, women and their decision to go to church lies in their risk preferences.  To break it all down in laymen’s terms, women are more likely to be religious because risky things scare them.  This might be even more true for African American women, who are more likely to suffer abuse and trauma at an early age.

This risk aversion translates to a need to lean on a higher power in order to gain protection from the things in the world that might do harm to them.  So, whether a religion is real or not, it’s less risky to go ahead and accept the faith and give credit to a higher power for good things that happen than to risk the possibility that bad things will happen and make you wonder if it’s all going wrong because you didn’t go to church.

Also, scientists say that less risk-averse women are less likely to go to church and more risk averse men are more likely to attend church.  So, it seems that many religious preferences are linked to risk – those who fear risk go to church, no matter what their gender may be; it just happens that women are not as interested in taking risks as men are.   For black women, there may also be a high social cost of avoiding religion.  If every other woman in your family shuns you for not going to church, this may make a person go to church, even if they would rather do otherwise.

You can read more below:

 

Women in virtually every society and culture are more religious than men, and the empirical evidence suggests that the reason is not gender socialization.  So what explains the higher level of religiosity among women?

The sex difference in religiosity follows directly from the evolutionary psychological theory of the origin of religious beliefs that I present in earlier posts (Part I, Part II) and the sex difference in risk-taking, which I also explain in earlier posts (Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV).  You’ll recall that the evolutionary origins of religiosity are in risk management; it is less risky to overinfer agency and hence be susceptible to religious beliefs than to underinfer agency and get killed by enemies and predators when you least expect them.  It is an error-management strategy to minimize the total costs of errors by predisposing the human brain to commit more false-positive errors of inference than false-negative errors when the former has less costly consequences than the latter.

You’ll also recall that women are inherently more risk-averse than men, both because women benefit far less from taking risks (given that there is a limit to how many children women can have and that all women are more or less guaranteed to have some children in their lifetime) and because their offspring suffer if women are risk-seeking (and get injured or die as a result) .  This is why men are much more criminal and violent than women.  If men are more risk-seeking than women, and if religion is an evolutionary means to minimize risk, then it naturally follows that women are more religious than men.

READ MORE via Why Are Women More Religious Than Men? II | Psychology Today.

17 Comments

  1. This is because women can be more easily fooled by pastors. And black women look to pastors as their fathers because most grew up without fathers.

  2. I don’t believe that women are any less risk-taking than men. Men are socialized to be controlling which causes them to look more to self and their own alleged powers. However, women that truly believe in God are much more risky in the since of living by faith. Women take the biggest risk of all when they have children as they have know idea how they will care for the child, yet forging ahead believing that they will make it. Women since the beginning of time have led the charge for change and societal advancement while risking their lives but never receiving the credit. Women are less likely to commit crimes because they are smarter. Furthermore, when they do they are less likely to be caught because they are smarter. Women know that believing in God is much more than merely going to church but that believing is about the principles that determine their character. I am offended as a woman by the assertions made in this article.

  3. because they are fronting. they go to church looking for sheepmen so they can fleece them and leave them. there are a lot of angry women in my church and some frustrated men. many men don’t go to church with their women because of all the hypocrisy. also single women go after married men so there is a lot of anger and jealousy. some men who stay married and true are only doing so for the children. too many women don’t know how good they have it. too many of the women use God as their excuse not to respect a man in the relationship.

    It’s a sad thing to witness. and NO! I won’t date any of them. I am at that church because that is where my x-wife goes with our son. but he’s grown and doesn’t go so much anymore, so she’s tapered down. Yeah, she’s one of the hypocrites. I ain’t mad, just observant. the marriage is over and there are no sour grapes involved. I can say for fact that I am not the only man at that church who see it that way.

  4. If you’re talking about Black Christianity, then you might be right. But this is not the truth when it comes to White Christianity.

  5. carol cummings on

    This article has several problems. It presents the authors reasoning, but no evidence to support the conclusions. It vascillates between calling male-female differences in “going to church” an inherent or foregone conclusion, to saying that the authors have discovered (scientifically) the reasons why. There is no presentation of data, survey or otherwise, which supports the authors conclusions. My perspective on the differences in church attendance are as valid as the authors, because both are simple matter of opinion. The author does not note that risky behavior is and has been increasing among women, including fighting and gang membership, despite being mothers. Finally, I would ask the authors to explain why going to church averts the risk in living? I think they are making an argument to support their views, parading that argument as scientific investigation by asserting professional standing.

  6. Women aren’t more religious than men. Females just are more apt to beg and plead, and to repent for their sins. If females were more revivalist minded they’d be leading in the running and preaching in churches. Instead, females as speakers in houses of worship tend to only lead to greater angst of lesbianism, misandryism, and [the] “Baal made me do it.” Remember, Baal duped Eve, not Adam.

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  10. Dilemmas of Pascal’s Wager 101

    You don’t cite your sources as some commenters complain. However, gender split in atheism, agnosticism, non-religion, etc. is a globally observed phenomenon, and various statistics published in scientific journals can be easily found. One article which cites multiple sources is here:
    https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-secular-life/201409/why-are-women-more-religious-men

    Nevertheless, main point in your article is in terms of risk minimizing, women are betting more frequently than men on the “safe side” of Pascal’s Wager, which itself has very shaky ground in philosophy, logic and game theory?

    Pascal’s Wager, no matter how you twist it, turn it and model it mathematically, remains still a question of faith and unverifiable assumptions, rather than a logical (as in the philosophical sense of the meaning of the word “logical”) choice.And worse than that, the risk can not only claimed to be minimized toward 0 but even in the opposite direction, e.g. it might be increasing the risk. Wouldn’t an all powerful deity see straight through the believer’s genuineness? What if people are betting on the wrong deity and the real deity punishes them for worshipping the wrong deity but spares the atheists with a lesser punishment? What if there isn’t one deity, but many with different expectations? What if the deity punishes them for not using their brain capacity properly, even though they might end up believing in the right deity? And remember there’s no supreme court “up there”, so what guarantee do they have that the one true deity, or competing deities, change their minds and send you to hell anyway? Would you be able to object to the decision? Start reading here:
    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/pascal-wager/

    There might be a multitude of cultural and/or biological reasons, or a combination of those, but I don’t buy the risk minimization as the leading or sole reason.

  11. Women have more insecurities than men.Most attractive women (looks wise) are not religious.The ones that come to church are divorced, overweight, mentally ill etc.Nothing wrong in this as this was the kind Jesus cared for. Although there may be more women in church ,many don’t really understand the Bible.They fail to see the bigger picture.

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