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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”.
Flanders is a widower, having been married to the equally religious Maude.
They had two children together; the sheltered and naive Rod and Todd.
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.
Flanders worked as a salesman in the pharmaceuticals industry for the bulk of his adult life.
Having saved much of his earnings, Flanders decided to quit his job and invested his family's life savings into a store in the Springfield mall called "The Leftorium" specializing in products for left-handed people.
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.
The dating profiles included references to how often, if at all, the would-be date attended services at a church or other religious setting.
Overall participants were more likely to see those with a similar outlook to them as potential dates or partners.
He is also a good neighbor to the Simpsons, regularly offering his assistance.
Ned's dogged friendship inspires the loyalty of others; when his Leftorium appeared on the verge of bankruptcy shortly after it opened, Homer arranged a George Bailey-esque bailout with the help of many people in Springfield.
He also owns the Leftorium and a home business, Flan Crest Enterprises, which makes religious hook rugs.