Study Shows That Religion Makes Children More Selfish

Ironically, religious parents were found to be of the opinion that their kids were more sensitive and empathetic to the suffering of others.

A recent study conducted at the University of Chicago has found that children who come from religious households tend to be more retaliatory and less kind than their secular counterparts. The study was conducted by a team of academics who observed the behavioral patterns of a sample set of over 1,000 children from predominantly Muslim, Christian and non-religious backgrounds.

These findings come as a surprising change to the long held belief that religion bolsters love, altruism and empathy. The study was conducted to examine how morality was shaped by upbringing early in life. Since religious households believe that their value system is more ritualized, common sense dictates that kids from these households should be more generous. However, it was established that it wasn't so.

The test was simple. Every child was given shirt and stickers and were told that there wasn't enough for all the children in the school. This was done to test their willingness to share. The results showed that children from secular households shared significantly more stickers than their religious counterparts. Muslim children were found to be less altruistic than kids from Christian households although not in a statistically significant way. Children with prolonged exposure to religion were found to exhibit the most negative relations.

The children were also assessed on their views on justice through a sensitivity task that tested their morality: they were shown some videos of interpersonal harm where kids were shown to be bumping and pushing each other. Religious kids were found to be more judgmental and demanded more severe punishment for the acts. Muslim kids found the acts more mean than Christian children.

Ironically, religious parents were found to be of the opinion that their kids were more sensitive and empathetic to the suffering of others.

There is ample evidence in history that secular people have a greater sense of morality than religious ones. The white people who supported civil rights were not religious, while devout Christians supported the apartheid regime in South Africa with the atheists being the prime voice of dissent. But it is ingrained in American society that atheists are immoral and untrustworthy.

The study lends a refreshing change in view to the idea that religion is necessary for a sense of morality. Far from fostering a pro-social behavior and tempering moral judgment, the study has demonstrated that religion does otherwise. This is an important step forward in the debate that religious people are innately more moral.


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