The barely religious are more compassionate than the very religious. So concludes a series of studies from the University of California, Berkeley, according to a news release:
When they looked into how much compassion motivated participants to be charitable in such ways as giving money or food to a homeless person, non-believers and those who rated low in religiosity came out ahead: "These findings indicate that although compassion is associated with pro-sociality among both less religious and more religious individuals, this relationship is particularly robust for less religious individuals," the study found.
In the second experiment, 101 American adults watched one of two brief videos, a neutral video or a heartrending one, which showed portraits of children afflicted by poverty. Next, they were each given 10 "lab dollars" and directed to give any amount of that money to a stranger. The least religious participants appeared to be motivated by the emotionally charged video to give more of their money to a stranger.
"The compassion-inducing video had a big effect on their generosity," Willer said. "But it did not significantly change the generosity of more religious participants."
In the final experiment, more than 200 college students were asked to report how compassionate they felt at that moment. They then played "economic trust games" in which they were given money to share - or not - with a stranger. In one round, they were told that another person playing the game had given a portion of their money to them, and that they were free to reward them by giving back some of the money, which had since doubled in amount.
Those who scored low on the religiosity scale, and high on momentary compassion, were more inclined to share their winnings with strangers than other participants in the study.
A researcher says the study concludes that although they are "less trusted" by their fellow citizens in this country, the less religious are more inclined to help those who need it.
I think the Bible already covered this in Luke 10:25–29.
I've seen this posted elsewhere, and every time there's confusion about what the study actually showed. Specifically, it does NOT claim that religious people are less likely to be generous or to help others. Rather, it shows that compassion plays a larger role in motivating non-religious people's generosity than it does for religious people's generosity. A "compassion-inducing video" was found to have a large effect on the generosity of non-religious people and little effect on that of religious people. However, the baseline generosity of religious people was significantly higher than that of non-religious.
Here's one of the figures from the report (warning, graph ahead):
I find the most interesting part of studies like this is people who identify with one group and "defend" themselves/the group against the study.
The article says that non-religious people give more after they are shown a heartrending video. The article gives no data on how much different groups give.
How can we tell which group is more sharing if we don't know who gives more to others (regardless of whether or not they watch a sappy video first)?
I tried to get to the original study but it requires a subscription. Anyone?
I am not surprised by these results. As a 20-year member of a Unitarian Universalist church, where all faiths and non-faiths are welcome, we consistantly are the first with the most in disasters. I find that so-called Christians tend to stand back and wait to see if the people in need are "their kind of people." I keep wondering what they are waiting for, Jesus would have jumped in and helped without waiting to find out if the needy believed his teachings. I'm struck by Christians who are cold and unmoved by tradgedy and hardship. They seem to lack compassion which is the backbone of 'their' martyr. I think UU's and Buddhists and Hindus are better Christians than most American Christians.
Perhaps the baseline charity is simular before watching an emotional video and different after because the difference in generalattitudes is: religious- " I ALREADY helped."
Non-religious-"oh my, I should help MORE "
If the graph linked by Bismuth is representative of the study which this article is referencing, then the headline is completely off the mark.
Some years back, a friend was discussing how headlines are often so misleading. He read an article about a study which found that some genetic concerns about marrying a first cousin were less severe than was commonly thought (or something to that effect). The article headline was, "No reason cousins should not marry".
My friend's rant was, "THAT'S NOT WHAT THE STUDY SAID!"
(The polka dot house is in Grand Forks, don't know why the reported in line in the article says Bismarck.)