Implicit Puritanism in American moral cognition

E. L. UHLMANN, T. Poehlman, D. Tannenbaum, J. Bargh

Journal of Experimental Social Psychology

March 2011, vol. 47, n°2, pp.312-320

Departments: Management & Human Resources

Keywords: Moral intuitions, American culture, Puritanism, Protestantism, Implicit

Three studies provide evidence that the judgments and behaviors of contemporary Americans are implicitly influenced by traditional Puritan-Protestant values regarding work and sex. American participants were less likely to display traditional values regarding sexuality when implicitly primed to deliberate, as opposed to intuition and neutral primes. British participants made judgments reflecting comparatively liberal sexual values regardless of prime condition (Study 1). Implicitly priming words related to divine salvation led Americans, but not Canadians, to work harder on an assigned task (Study 2). Moreover, work and sex values appear linked in an overarching American ethos. Asian-Americans responded to an implicit work prime by rejecting revealing clothing and sexually charged dancing, but only when their American cultural identity was first made salient (Study 3). These effects were observed not only among devout American Protestants, but also non-Protestant and less religious Americans.Keywords: Moral intuitions; American culture; Puritanism; Protestantism; Implicit