Saturday, April 15, 2017

Does Religion Really Make You a Better Person? Pious people are More Likely to Help the Needy Than Those Who Don't Believe in God

When it comes to helping the needy, it seems that religion may play a key part in our approach.

Does Religion Really Make You a Better Person? Pious people are More Likely to Help the Needy Than Those Who Don't Believe in God


A new study has found that non-religious people tend to believe in treating people equally, while religious people are more likely to help the needy. 

The researchers believe that as religious people have more faith in a just world, they are reluctant to choose winners in the name of egalitarianism.

Researchers from Bogazici University in Turkey were interested in understanding how religion affects our approach to compassion.

Their findings suggest that those with religious beliefs tend to take a more pragmatic approach for the needy, while remaining consistent with their beliefs about a just deity.

The study involved 550 students, who were presented with a resource-sharing problem.

In the problem, a shipwreck had left two people, called Friday and Robinson, stranded on neighbouring islands – Island A and Island B, respectively.

Each island had 12 fruit plants, each of which could only be consumed by one person.

Robinson could only get 20 fruit from each plant, but he could visit both islands.

In contrast, Friday could harvest 120 fruit from each plant, but had to remain on his island.

Participants were asked to pick the fairest way to divide up the plants from three options, which actually represented three different political theories of distribution.

The egalitarian option flattened out differences to produce equality for all, while the utilitarian option left one person with more fruit as long as there was a net high total value.

Finally, the Rawlian option reduced inequality by benefitting the worse off.

The results showed that non-religious people were more likely to choose the egalitarian approach, with 38 per cent choosing it, compared to just 25 per cent of religious people.

Meanwhile, 55 per cent of religious people chose the Rawlian option, versus 43 per cent of non-believers.

This left just 19 per cent of non-believers choosing the utilitarian option, and 20 per cent of religious people.

In their paper, published in PsycNET, the researchers, led by Ceyhun Elgin, wrote: 'Even though the relative popularity of alternative distributions is similar among religious and nonreligious people, some significant differences emerged between these three groups.

'With minimal information about the abilities of the agents, less religious people were more likely to prefer the egalitarian distribution and less likely to prefer the Rawlian distribution.'

The researchers speculate that as religious people have more faith in a just world, they are reluctant to choose winners in the name of egalitarianism.




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