Friday, April 22, 2011

He gets made in our image

This new study supports the view that people make over Jesus in their own image (e.g., blacks believing he was black; Nordics believing he looked Nordic):
In two studies, we examined whether (a) conceptions of Jesus would differ between Koreans and Americans, and whether (b) national differences in self-reported personality and well-being are mediated by the cultural norm for personality and well-being. Because there is only one Jesus, different conceptions held by Koreans and Americans are likely to reflect cultural construction processes. In Study 1, we asked Korean and American participants to engage in a free association task with Jesus as a target. Americans associated Jesus with primarily positive connotations (“awesome”) and rarely with negative connotations (“pain”), whereas Koreans associated Jesus with both positive and negative connotations. In Study 2, we asked Korean and American participants to rate Jesus and themselves using personality and well-being scales. Americans rated both Jesus and themselves as more extraverted, agreeable, conscientious, open, and happier than did Koreans. Most important, national differences in self-reported agreeableness, conscientiousness, openness, and happiness were partially mediated by conceptions of Jesus.
Myself, I imagine him with a hilarious, self-deprecating sense of humor and a nagging fear that he's coming down with something.


  1. Anonymous1:02 PM

    I wonder what it would have been 100 years ago. Now folks are so subjective in their outlook and such is not challenged. Objectivity used to be something people actively sought. That doesn't mean they were more objective, but it was more esteemed.

    I figure that Jesus looked Jewish, duh, and had such a unique and forceful personality that he was rather unlike anyone or any group.

  2. He'd probably look more Sephardic than he would like Jerry Seinfeld...Ashkenazim have been in Europe for a while, and you're not going to tell me there's been no gene flow.

    He'd also likely resemble a fire-and-brimstone preacher with, obviously, a gift for words much more than any modern Ashkenazic stereotype (which wouldn't even be appropriate to the location and time period). Probably more like a cross between Cotton Mather and Billy Graham.

    Yeah, I know. It's a joke.

  3. Anonymous12:13 PM

    Jerry Seinfeld's mother was a Syrian Jew.


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