A sample of research that merely ignores demographics:
une 26, 2013 — A computer analysis of nearly 2 million text messages (tweets) on the online social network Twitter found that Christians use more positive words, fewer negative words and engage in less analytical thinking than atheists. Christians also were more likely than atheists to tweet about their social relationships, the researchers found.
Overall, tweets by Christians had more positive and less negative content than tweets by atheists, the researchers report. A less analytical thinking style among Christians and more frequent use of social words were correlated with the use of words indicating positive emotions, the researchers also said.
Okay, but so what? There are many more serious Christians in the world than serious atheists. One outcome is that it is not especially difficult for most Christians to spend their social time mainly with people they like and get along with.* These types of situations don’t invite much analysis or many negative emotions.
Also because the net is wide, serious Christians will include many people, probably the majority, who are not especially intellectual. My impression is that most atheists are intellectuals.
In any event, people who belong to small minorities often face more limited social opportunities. The fact that two men are both atheists by no means implies that they will get along. It may increase the chances that they don’t.
I don’t doubt that there are spiritual issues as well. If you believe you live in a universe that doesn’t care whether you love or hate, it may be easier to hate than otherwise. But I leave that part to wiser heads. The main thing is, for any type of validity, this sort of research should be more firmly grounded in demographics.
* In Christian groups, this is often viewed as problem because it hinders evangelism.
Hat tip: Brains on Purpose