Work Ethic & Religion


The Journal of Business Ethics published a study that compared people with different religious background living in the United States. Eight hundred and three people (313 protestants, 180 without religious affiliation, 96 Muslims, 86 Catholics and 128 other) participated in a questionnaire study.

The analysis revealed that Muslim Turks reported greater scores on four of five work ethic characteristics. Protestants scored higher than Catholics on all characteristics, but there was no significant difference.

More specifically, the five factors measured were: (a) Hard work and success; (b) Internal Locus of Control; (c) Negative attitude toward leisure; (d) Attitude toward saving money and time; (e) Work as an end itself.

Regarding the catholic group, the statistical means for  all five factors showed the following ranking:

1. Hard work and success (ex. “Anyone who is willing to work hard has a good chance of succeeding, a person who can approach an unpleasant task with an enthusiasm is the person who gets ahead”)

2. Internal locus of control. (ex. “Life would have little meaning if we never had to suffer; a distaste for hard work usually reflects a weakness of character”)

3. Work as and end itself (ex. “There are few satisfaction equal to the realizations that one has done his/her best at a job; I feel uneasy when there is little work for me to do”)

4. Time and money saving (ex. “Money acquired easily [e.g. through gambling or speculation] is usually spent unwisely; the credit card is a ticket to careless spending”)

5. Negative attitude toward leisure (ex. “Life would be more meaningful is we had more leisure time; people should have more leisure time to spend in relaxation”)

Source: Zulfikar 2012, “Do Muslims believe more in protestant work ethic than Christians? Comparison of people with different religious background in the US” J Bus Ethics 105:489-502

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