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Religious Children Share Less and Judge More

Study reveals how secularization increases kindness

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Illustration of young children

Illustration Credit: Little Ones by Jennifer Davis

A group of seven developmental psychologists from around the world recently revealed that religious children are less altruistic than nonreligious children in Canada, China, Jordan, South Africa, Turkey, and the United States.Published in Current Biology, the study was led by Jean Decety, distinguished professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Chicago and the director of the university’s Child Neurosuite. “Our findings contradict the commonsense and popular assumption that children from religious households are more altruistic and kind toward others,” Decety said. “In our study, kids of atheist and nonreligious families were, in fact, more generous.”The team of psychologists used the “Dictator Game” as a tool to examine a diverse, cross-cultural sample of 1,174 children ages 5 through 12 that included 280 Christians, 510 Muslims, 323 nonreligious, 29 Jews, 18 Buddhists, 5 Hindus, 3 agnostics, and 6 others. The game basically tests a person’s level of self-interest by revealing how individuals might share resources with others.In the game, each child was asked to choose 10 favorites fro …

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