Perception, Personality, Dating and Religion

Darrell’s avatar

Religious homogamy. That’s something you rarely hear anyone talk about or you may never have heard the phrase. Yet the idea has had some serious cultural implications over the history of man. The phrase refers to the people from like religions preferring to date and marry each other. You’re probably even familiar with religions where the idea is codified as canon to be obeyed. In Christianity, many believe that Paul included marriage in warning to the Corinthians to not be “unequally yoked” with “unbelievers”. Traditional religious parents often blanch at the idea of their child marrying outside of the faith.

New studies out of the University of Otago in New Zealand suggest that neither the religious institution nor parents need to push too hard to prevent such pairing. There is a natural inclination of like-minded religious people not to pair with the non-religious while non-religious people have biases of their own against marrying religious people.

The study suggests that non-religious people viewed religious people as not being open to new experiences. Openness is commonly seen as a necessary ingredient for intellectual curiosity to flourish. Notice the word “viewed” and “seen” above. This is important because the study concerned itself with perception of the non-religious rather than any objective reality. The more someone went to church, the more they were viewed by the non-religious as lacking openness and were typically rated as a less desirable potential partner. As vestiges of being religious went up, for the non-religious, potential partners’ attractiveness went down.

Part of the argument apparently was as basic as one group seeing openness as an essential quality while another even questioned whether openness was inherently a good thing at all. The two may fundamentally look at experiences labelled as “open” differently and apply different values to both. In our model, Sentinels are most likely to be drawn to traditional organized religion, with Analysts being on the other side of the spectrum.

It would be interesting to see if there was a differentiation between “religious” and “spiritual” while asking the same questions. Some would argue they are not the same thing at all. But there may be some overlap between two. When the study refers to “religious”, are they referring only to those who adhere to traditional organized religion? Does all manner of religious experience count here? What if one fancies him or herself as a spiritual adventurer as many in the New Age Movement do? That suggests some kind of openness to experience although there also may be a certain degree of dogma associated with it as well.

In our model, Intuitive personality types (so Analysts and Diplomats) are likely to be open to spirituality without being as open to traditional religious experiences. Explorers would most likely shun traditional dogmas while Sentinels would embrace them.

What’s your opinion or experience on how one group views the other? Join the conversation.