A new study from the University of Kitchener suggests that Mennonites experience only slightly more guilt than their Roman Catholic counterparts. While both groups experience similar levels of guilt and shame on issues of food and alcohol consumption, and Catholics actually felt slightly guiltier than Mennonites about their sexual behaviour, total Mennonite guilt was boosted in areas of violence, swearing, and misuse of finances.
“When it comes to feeling really awful about the time you gazed a little too long at the back of the Sears catalogue, Catholics actually surpass Mennonites by a significant margin,” said professor of sociology Lawrence Hoffman. “60% of Catholics we studied reported feeling ‘like I’m going to burn forever,’ while the majority of Mennonites only claimed to feel ‘like Mom might get mad.'”
However, the study showed that Mennonites were much more likely to feel ‘horrible, just really horrible,’ after watching R-rated movies, while most Catholics had only reported ‘mild discomfort.’ The study also noted significant differences in Mennonite and Catholic responses to flirtation.
“Basically, we got some really attractive people to compliment them, say they were pretty or handsome and so on,” explained Hoffman. “And we found that not only were Mennonites more likely than Catholics to blush at the attention, but were also much more likely to start giggling uncontrollably.”
Hoffman says the total difference between Mennonite and Catholic guilt averaged about 6%, but he hopes to expand the study to include other denominations as well. Hoffman said he hypothesized that Mormons may feel even more guilt than the Mennonites, while Anglicans, he suggests, may feel absolutely no guilt at all.
(Photo credit: Justin Maier/CC/modified)