A new study indicates that children raised in atheist households may be more generous than children raised in Christian or Muslim households.
Professor Jean Decety of the university of Chicago led the study, which was published in Current Biology.
The Dictator Game
The Daily Mail Online broke the story early Monday morning and described the circumstances surrounding the study.
“The study included 1,170 children between ages 5 and 12, from six countries—Canada, China, Jordan, South Africa, Turkey and the United States. Parents completed questionnaires about their religious beliefs and practices and perceptions of their children's empathy and sensitivity to justice. From the questionnaires, three large groupings were established: Christian, Muslim and not religious,” the site reported.
The children’s altruistic tendencies were tested by playing a juvenile version of something called “the dictator game.” This game involved giving the children ten stickers each and asking them how many they would like to share with an unseen child. The number of stickers the children from each group created the results of the study.
The children from the religious households shared fewer stickers overall than their atheist counterparts.
A second test included showing the children cartoons and videos featuring one character pushing or bumping into another character. The children were then asked what punishment the people in the video should be given.
The Children from religious households favored stronger punishments for the offensive characters.
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Decety believes that the results of her study challenge the notion that religious values make for a more altruistic world.
'They challenge the view that religiosity facilitates prosocial behavior, and call into question whether religion is vital for moral development—suggesting the secularization of moral discourse does not reduce human kindness. In fact, it does just the opposite,' Decety said.
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