Children Without A Religion Are More Altruistic, Kinder, And Less Judgemental, Says A Study

Children Without A Religion Are More Altruistic, Kinder, And Less Judgemental, Says A Study

Titled, The Negative Association Between Religiousness and Children’s Altruism Across the World, it was primarily conducted among children between 5 and 12 years who were Christians, Muslims, and those who did not subscribe to any religion.

Children who do not subscribe to any religion are much kinder, are altruistic, and less judgemental than those who are born in a household that subscribed to religion and were, therefore, inclined to follow the same. The study was conducted among 1,200 children from the ages of 5 and 12.  The sample size belonged to children from different countries that included the US, Canada, China, Jordan, Turkey, and South Africa and those who came from varied cultures. Primarily, the largest of the group in the study were Muslims at 43 percent followed by Christians at 24 percent while  27.6 percent of them were non-religious.


According to the study titled, The Negative Association Between Religiousness and Children’s Altruism Across the World, "Overall, our findings … contradict the commonsense and popular assumption that children from religious households are more altruistic and kind towards others. More generally, they call into question whether religion is vital for moral development, supporting the idea that secularisation of moral discourse will not reduce human kindness – in fact, it will do just the opposite,” reports AnoNews.



The results of the study were published in the scientific journal, Current Biology, in 2015. How were the children tested in the study? Well for one they were put in a position whereby they would have an opportunity to share what they felt with others when presented with particular situations. For example, they were shown video footage of children fighting and pushing each other while researchers monitored and gauged their reactions.


According to the study, the results “robustly demonstrate that children from households identifying as either of the two major world religions (Christianity and Islam) were less altruistic than children from non-religious households,” said the researchers. What is also striking in the study is the fact that the older children in the study who were more indoctrinated into a religion were found to “exhibit[ed] the greatest negative relations.” 


It is no wonder that viewpoints about religion tend to harden with age. While religion gives a lot of people hope and a shoulder to cry on, in times of need, however, there is no denying the fact that some of the greatest crimes against humanity have also been committed in the name of religion. The study throws important light on the fact that prejudices and an attitude of indifference towards the other get developed at a rather early age in a person.


The study also found that religious children are more punitive towards other children and are more judgemental.  This might be because parents who tend to be religious do not shy away from resorting to punitive action towards their children and consider things like spanking socially acceptable.  The study said, “Religiousness was inversely predictive of children’s altruism and positively correlated with their punitive tendencies."


It added, "Together these results reveal the similarity across countries in how religion negatively influences children’s altruism, challenging the view that religiosity facilitates prosocial behavior. While it is generally accepted that religion contours people’s moral judgments and pro-social behavior, the relation between religion and morality is a contentious one,” the study continued.





There were also children who subscribed to other religions such as Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Agnostic and others, who were also part of the study. But the results were not statistically significant enough to be included in the study. 

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