Workplace Religious Displays and Perceptions of Organization Attractiveness

  • David Beane
  • Ajay Ponnapalli
  • Chockalingam Viswesvaran


Workplace religious expression has become an intensely debated topic across news outlets and social media. However research on what constitutes acceptable vs unacceptable workplace religious display is sparse. At a time when EEOC claims involving religion are on the rise there is a clear need for study in this area. In this study participants in two samples read 27 scenarios where an interviewer engaged in a Christian religious display during a job interview. We used Christian religious displays for their ease of recognition in an American sample. Participants rated each workplace religious display in terms of likelihood of occurrence and organization attractiveness. In both samples organization attractiveness ratings were more negative than expected in a predominantly Christian sample signifying that while individuals may value their ability to express their religion they may not appreciate such displays from those who represent an organization. Verbal and physical religious displays received more negative ratings compared to scenarios that spoke to shared experiences such as displaying pictures of one’s children in a religious ceremony. Application in organizations and HR implications are discussed.


Religion Workplace religious expression Organization attractiveness 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

This research was also presented as a poster at the 2016 Society of Industrial/Organizational Psychology (SIOP) Conference in Anaheim, California. All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Human and Animal Studies

This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


This was an unfunded study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyFlorida International UniversityMiamiUSA
  2. 2.College of BusinessFlorida International UniversityMiamiUSA

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