Sunday, April 15, 2012

Biblical Behavior

So, I had hoped to have more to report from the workshop.  I may still post my notes when I finish transcribing them, but the fact is that absolutely nothing was resolved.  Given the diversity of disciplines, we probably needed at least a full week just to come to some sort of consensus regarding vocabulary.  That said, it was a good beginning of something, I'm just not sure what yet.

The sessions did, however, kindle some new ideas and I'm sure more will come to me as my thoughts on the meetings continue to gestate.  David presented our approach and preliminary results of the Biblical citation project and it was remarkably well received.  That was both gratifying and encouraging to say the least.

One question regarding the project that came up during one of the breaks was how or if we're measuring behaviors based on these Biblical citations.  That's something I've given some thought to, but aside from possibly getting some of Ian's surveys into the hands of parishioners in the churches we're studying I hadn't come up with much.

Today I had an idea as I was walking around in the Indiana sun.  Namely, why don't we have people read Biblical citations and play economic games?  After getting some basic demographic information and having participants answer some questions about their religiosity, we could have them play some kind of economic game to get a baseline.  Afterward, we could have them read some Biblical citations and respond to them in some way.  For instance, we could have them rate them for some quality such as submission or tell us how the citations make them feel.  Then we could have them play another round of the economic game or a different one to see if reading citations from different churches gets people to play differently.

I haven't formulated concrete questions this kind of methodology would address.  Basically, though, I want to be able to take a stab at answering the question of whether the Biblical citations different congregations choose are simply a reflection of the social dynamics within that congregation or whether there might be a causal relationship between reading the citations and behavior.

I'd welcome any thoughts y'all might have on this.  It seems like something we could pilot on Mechanical Turk and have ready to run in Evolution for Everyone this fall.  Hell, for all I know we might be able to run the whole thing on Mechanical Turk if we're clever about it.

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