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Why are women more religious than men?

August 17, 2014


It has long been the case in the US that women are more religious than men, as evinced by this Pew poll, for example. And also in many other cultures. As with many salient gender differences, this has led some to concoct quasi-biological explanations, e.g., women are less inclined to risk taking, and so more inclined “to lean on a higher power in order to gain protection from the things in the world that might do harm to them.” Despite the fact that there are myriad cultural and social connections that are suggestive.

So, it is interesting that a recent Gallup poll shows that the LGBT population not only is much less religious, but that religiosity in that population is virtually the same for women and men. Greta Christina points out the obvious:

Whatever the reasons are for the gender disparity in religiosity, it disappears among LGBT Americans. Unless you’re going to argue that queers are just born this way — that queer women’s brains are born radically different from straight women’s brains, in a way that somehow links sexual orientation and/or gender identity with religiosity — you now have to accept that whatever the reasons are for the gender disparity in religiosity, it’s not inborn.

Her argument isn’t airtight. Still, the data point is interesting. And it seems that scholarship on the question already leans toward social causes, rather than biological ones. 

One Comment leave one →
  1. Laura permalink
    August 17, 2014 4:51 pm

    Can biology explain how individuals go in and/or out of religion in their lifetimes?
    I think biology can likely explain predispositions. Basically, like most things, it likely takes a bit of biology and a bit of cultural influences and experiences.

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