Arizona State University
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Religious people are more trusted than nonreligious people. Although most theorists attribute
these perceptions to the beliefs of religious targets, religious individuals also differ in behavioral
ways that might cue trust. We examined whether perceivers might trust religious targets more
because they heuristically associate religion with slow life-history strategies. In three
experiments, we found that religious targets are viewed as slow life-history strategists, and that
these findings are not the result of a universally positive halo effect; that the effect of target
religion on trust is significantly mediated by the target’s life-history traits (i.e., perceived
reproductive strategy); and that, when perceivers have direct information about a target’s
reproductive strategy, their ratings of trust are driven primarily by his or her reproductive
strategy, rather than religion. These effects operate over and above targets’ belief in moralizing
gods, and offer a novel theoretical perspective on religion and trust.