According to the Vancouver Sun, University of British Columbia researchers have determined that people find atheists really, really terrible.
The researchers conducted six experiments on 350 Americans and 420 UBC students of varying religions (67% of the Americans were Christian). In one experiment, they presented participants with the story of an “archetypal freerider” who cheats and steals a lot, and asked what group they thought that person might belong to. Participants were more likely to categorize the person as an atheist than as a Christian, Jew, Muslim, gay person, or feminist. Only rapists fared as poorly. According to the study, “People did not significantly differentiate atheists from rapists.”
In another experiment, researchers asked what jobs the subjects would hire atheists to do. Lead study author Will Gervais discusses the results:
People are willing to hire an atheist for a job that is perceived as low trust, for instance as a waitress. But when hiring for a high-trust job like daycare worker, they were like, nope, not going to hire an atheist for that job.
Study coauthor Ara Norenzayan told QMI,
Outward displays of belief in God may be viewed as a proxy for trustworthiness, particularly by religious believers who think that people behave better if they feel that God is watching them. While atheists may see their disbelief as a private matter on a metaphysical issue, believers may consider atheists’ absence of belief as a public threat to co-operation and honesty.
Obviously, fear of God is the only reason people are nice to each other.
Atheists, conversely, didn’t find religious people untrustworthy. Says Gervais, “They seem to think that religion is not an important signal for who you can trust.”