Children from religious families are more selfish, recent study suggests

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Being giving has become synonymous with being religious. But recent research begs to differ with this widely held belief.

A recent study is suggesting that kids who grew up in religious households turn out to be more selfish adults.

These children, who are raised with more defined rules and a stricter environment, also believe in harsher punishment.

The study, which was conducted by the University of Chicago, was published in Current Biology and was led by neuroscientist Professor John Decety.

Decety’s original aim was not really to focus on morality but to find differences in sharing and empathy based on the culture.

What he did find was that upbringing shapes a child’s sense of morality during their adult years.

By using a technique called the ‘dictator game’, they were able to arrive at the results that children from religious families grow up to be more selfish.

How the ‘Dictator Game’ works

The study involved children from both Christian, Muslim, and non-religious backgrounds.

Each child was given 30 stickers. After which they were asked to share their stickers with an anonymous child from a similar ethnic group from the same school.

A total of 1170 children took part in the study. They hailed from six different countries namely USA, China, Canada, Turkey, Jordan, South Africa, and Turkey.

After the game, the way each child allocated resources reflected their ‘generosity score’.

The results showed that children from non-religious shared more stickers than their Christian and Muslim counterparts.

All three groups, however, became less giving with age. But since religious kids showed less altruism, it’s suggested that kids with longer exposure to religion become less generous.

Though this study is not conclusive, the insight it suggests is certainly of interest to parents and how their beliefs and religion come into play when shaping the future person their children will become.

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