The Ned Flanders effect – religious people unattractive?

A collaborative study carried out by a number of universities around the world, including the The University of Otago in New Zealand, has found evidence for the existence of the Ned Flanders effect.

Nedward “Ned” Flanders, is a character in the long running TV series The Simpsons.

He is the Simpson family’s extremely religious next “diddly-door” neighbour.

He thoroughly worships God and strictly follows the Bible as literally as possible and is easily shocked when challenged on any point of dogma.

Using experiments involving fictitious online dating profiles, the researchers found that the more religious someone seemed the more likely a non-believer would be to assume they are not “open” to new ideas and the less attractive they found them.

“The stereotype may be false but does exist … and it is having a real impact on society,” said Dr Jonathan Jong, of Oxford’s Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology.

“An assumption disseminated in popular culture—if not necessarily borne out by empirical research—is that religious individuals are typically closed-minded,” he says.

“From Footloose’s parochial Rev Shaw Moore, who despairs at the ‘‘proliferation … of obscene rock and roll music with its gospel of easy sexuality and relaxed morality’’ to The Simpsons’s overly friendly but entirely dogmatic Ned Flanders, the pious are often portrayed as rigid, conventional, and intolerant.”


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News category: New Zealand, Top Story.

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