Often times when a person has found an altruistic lifestyle or has dramatically changed his ways of doing things wrong and aggressively, people will often say that the person has “found religion.” Recently a study found that merely identifying a person’s religious beliefs makes that person less hostile.
Researchers at York University found that identifying religion for the majority of people can have a positive effect on aggressive behavior. Over nine studies with close to a thousand participants from a multitude of religions, the results consistently supported the conclusion that mentioning religion had a positive impact on that person’s behavior.
“Our research suggests that people generally associate their religious beliefs with Golden Rule ideals of forgiveness and forbearance, and that they turn to them when the chips are down, in threatening circumstances,” says York U psychology professor Ian McGregor, the article’s second author. “This research contributes to the current dialogue on religion by demonstrating that even brief religious belief reminders not accompanied by any explicit beliefs or injunctions tend to promote more magnanimous, less hostile choices in threatening circumstances.”
This research can have significant impact on conflict resolution because unlike conventional wisdom which suggests that you not mention politics and religion, it appears that mentioning religion — instead of critiquing religion — can have some benefit when dealing with increasing hostility towards the other party.