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Highly religious people are less motivated by compassion than are non-believers

post #1 of 15
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In three experiments, social scientists found that compassion consistently drove less religious people to be more generous. For highly religious people, however, compassion was largely unrelated to how generous they were, according to the findings which are published in the most recent online issue of the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

http://newscenter.berkeley.edu/2012/...andgenerosity/

Interesting study. Although, I wish they would've described the metrics used to determine whether someone was "religious" because it's likely that they mean "religious Christian".

I originally read about this study on an article on Addicting Info but that article was way too sensationalized and implied a lot.
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post #2 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by JoBravo View Post

Interesting study. Although, I wish they would've described the metrics used to determine whether someone was "religious" because it's likely that they mean "religious Christian".

I originally read about this study on an article on Addicting Info but that article was way too sensationalized and implied a lot.

My guess is the "metric" used was nothing more than asking the particiant if they were religious or not.

IMO, the "very religious" are in the "us vs. them/ God loves me but can't stand you" frame of mind that limits their compassion to those who are in the same group.
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post #3 of 15
Here is a link to the abstract: http://spp.sagepub.com/content/early...44137.abstract
Quote:
Abstract

Past research argues that religious commitments shape individuals’ prosocial sentiments, including their generosity and solidarity. But what drives the prosociality of less religious people? Three studies tested the hypothesis that, with fewer religious expectations of prosociality, less religious individuals’ levels of compassion will play a larger role in their prosocial tendencies. In Study 1, religiosity moderated the relationship between trait compassion and prosocial behavior such that compassion was more critical to the generosity of less religious people. In Study 2, a compassion induction increased generosity among less religious individuals but not among more religious individuals. In Study 3, state feelings of compassion predicted increased generosity across a variety of economic tasks for less religious individuals but not among more religious individuals. These results suggest that the prosociality of less religious individuals is driven to a greater extent by levels of compassion than is the prosociality of the more religious.

I don't have a membership to that website so I can't read the entire study. But here's what I know: It wasn't a new study, it was simply gathering data from other studies. Sure, I bet it was mostly about Christians and I bet it was the word of the participant rather than some other metric to test "religiousity." But given the consistent findings, there's something there.
post #4 of 15
I am a Born Again Christian and I have compassion and mercy and love all in me, I am also supportive of Vegetarian lifestyle because that is how our bodies are made. I think the more a Christian is closed minded type baptist Christians they are less loveable and full of compassion.
post #5 of 15
This reminds me of the study that conservative talking heads cite to inform the electorate that people who identify as conservatives donate a larger % of their income to charities than people who identify as non-conservatives.
post #6 of 15
How much compassion could you possibly have with mundane, earthly problems, when you have to be okay with the idea that most people are going to go to hell and deserve to?
post #7 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by peacefulveglady View Post

I am a Born Again Christian and I have compassion and mercy and love all in me, I am also supportive of Vegetarian lifestyle because that is how our bodies are made. I think the more a Christian is closed minded type baptist Christians they are less loveable and full of compassion.

Quote:
Originally Posted by delicioso View Post

How much compassion could you possibly have with mundane, earthly problems, when you have to be okay with the idea that most people are going to go to hell and deserve to?

It doesn't say religious people have less compassion, it says compassion is less likely to influence their actions.

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post #8 of 15
So, they feel compassion for the guy on death row, but they don't let that get in the way of their desire to fry him? Wait. What?
post #9 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by delicioso View Post

So, they feel compassion for the guy on death row, but they don't let that get in the way of their desire to fry him? Wait. What?

That's one possible interpretation. Another would be a situation where they feel no compassion for someone, but engage in helpful behavior anyway.

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post #10 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by cornsail View Post

That's one possible interpretation. Another would be a situation where they feel no compassion for someone, but engage in helpful behavior anyway.

I think that means they're happy to help out in a homeless shelter and give money to charities, but mainly because they figure that doing so will earn points with the Big Guy and make them more likely to head to heaven once they're dead.
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post #11 of 15
Just a guess--maybe it has to do with the models of moral development which posit that some people internalize prosociality and others just comply with external pressures to dictate how they will behave.

Or some are doing what they think they must do to get a reward in the afterlife, but at times it's apparent such folks do not actually feel compassion/generosity/etc. inside their hearts.

I have seen this for years in people whose political stance is healthcare should not be "free" for the poor although their god commands them to take care of the sick and poor. They attempt to rationalize this by doing symbolic charitable works/giving. Then when they are faced with a giant bill themselves, they expect the (nonprofit) hospital to write it off.
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post #12 of 15
How is the religiosity of people determined- self evaluation? I find that highly problematic. Those who identify as "religious" are not necessarily so.
post #13 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gib View Post

This reminds me of the study that conservative talking heads cite to inform the electorate that people who identify as conservatives donate a larger % of their income to charities than people who identify as non-conservatives.

Well if one counts church contributions as charitable contributions this may be true.
post #14 of 15
The headline of the story is not reflective of the description given within the article. The description says NOTHING about atheists. The abstract Elaine found says NOTHING about atheists. Yet the headline of the story reads "Study Reveals Atheists Are MORE Compassionate And Generous Than Highly Religious People". Maybe there is a study someplace that supports that, but it ain't this one.

"Less religious" DNE atheist. Or at least not neccessarily (atheist = less religious would evaluate to "true", but the equality isn't transitive).

I believe this kind of thing is called "spin".

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post #15 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave in MPLS View Post

The headline of the story is not reflective of the description given within the article. The description says NOTHING about atheists. The abstract Elaine found says NOTHING about atheists. Yet the headline of the story reads "Study Reveals Atheists Are MORE Compassionate And Generous Than Highly Religious People". Maybe there is a study someplace that supports that, but it ain't this one.

"Less religious" DNE atheist. Or at least not neccessarily (atheist = less religious would evaluate to "true", but the equality isn't transitive).

I believe this kind of thing is called "spin".

Yeah I forgot to put the better link from which I quoted in there. As I said in the OP, I found the article on Addicting Info to imply way more than what the actual study did which is why I sought for and had intended to post the link I've just now added.
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