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Improving the Electability of Atheists in the United States: A Preliminary Examination

  • Andrew S. Franks (a1)

Decades of polling data and recent research have demonstrated the magnitude of anti-atheist prejudice in the United States and its relationship to perceptions of atheists as immoral and untrustworthy. Across three studies, I examine the malleability of bias against atheists in the context of election politics. Informational manipulations of an atheist candidate's stated values (Study 1) and popularity (Study 2) improve participants’ perceptions of the morality and trustworthiness of and likelihood of voting for that atheist candidate, but religiously affiliated participants still prefer a similarly situated Christian candidate. Study 3 shows that participants are more likely to vote for an atheist when the opposing candidate was described as a theocrat. Implications of this research for ameliorating the under-representation of non-religious individuals in government are discussed.

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Corresponding author
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Andrew S. Franks, Department of Psychology, Lake Superior State University, 650 West Easterday Avenue, Sault Ste, Marie, MI 49783. E-mail:
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Politics and Religion
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