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Using experiments involving fictitious online dating profiles, they 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. and it is having a real impact on society,” said Dr Jonathan Jong, of Oxford’s Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology.

In a paper published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, the researchers point to the Ned Flanders, the churchgoing neighbour from The Simpsons, to sum up a popular caricature about religious people.

Non-believers were not only less attracted to religious people the more regularly they attended services, but also rated less “open” the more religious they seemed.

In a separate experiment the dating profiles of the fictitious religious people were amended to include comments such as: “I don’t pretend my ethical perspective is the only one.” As a result, religious people deemed more “open” were judged more desirable by non-religious people but less so by fellow believers.

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

“From Footloose’s parochial Rev Shaw Moore, who despairs at the ‘‘proliferation ...

This mystery man even goes as far as to propose to Patty, although she declines.

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Each was asked a series of questions about themselves, including whether they were themselves religious, which was then used to analyse their responses.People in one group were asked to read a series of fictitious dating website profiles and score them for desirability as a potential date or partner.They were also asked to rate them for general personality traits including “openness to experience”.People seen as religious could find it more difficult to attract a partner because of a “Ned Flanders” effect in which they are assumed to be rigid and traditionalist even if they are not, a study of dating habits suggests.Psychologists at Oxford University, the University of Maryland in the US and University of Otago in New Zealand, found evidence that stereotypes about religious people in secular western countries actively make them seem less attractive to non-believers.

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