- Shane Savitsky
- Aug 7
People assume serial killers are atheists
A new study published in Nature Human Behaviour found that people around the world are predisposed to believe that atheists are more likely to be serial killers than religious believers — a bias even held by atheists themselves.
- By the numbers: The study included 3,256 participants across 13 diverse countries that included highly secular nations like Finland and the Netherlands as well as highly religious ones like the United Arab Emirates and India.
- The test: Participants answered a survey question regarding the religious beliefs of a hypothetical sociopathic serial killer, and 60% tagged the killer as not believing in any gods, compared to 30 percent who branded him a religious believer.
Why it matters: Even as the world becomes increasingly secular, people in very diverse societies across the globe still generally view belief in a god as preventative of extremely immoral actions. Though humanity's core moral norms tend to largely be universal and independent from religious convictions, centuries of overwhelming religious belief still impact our collective view on morality.