Belief in Hell Lowers Crime

crevinfo A psychologist has determined that belief in hell reduces the crime rate.

A finding like this might belong in the “Well, duh” category, but more interesting is the interpretation: what does the correlation mean? Science Daily explained how a research team led by Azim F. Shariff decided to check the intuitive idea that worry about afterlife consequences tends to make people behave better. They studied crime data covering 26 years from 67 different countries, and found that hope for reward in a blessed heaven is not enough; that hope by itself is actually a predicter of higher crime rates. The fear of hell is what changes behavior:

“Supernatural punishment across nations seems to predict lower crime rates,” Shariff said. “At this stage, we can only speculate about mechanisms, but it’s possible that people who don’t believe in the possibility of punishment in the afterlife feel like they can get away with unethical behavior. There is less of a divine deterrent.”

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