A new study conducted by researchers from the University of Chicago claims religion makes children less generous, but it depends on the country. Religious communities in other countries may be more altruistic than religious communities in the United States; therefore, it is too early to assume that religious teachings have a negative influence on children.
Religion is being increasingly more contested these days as many more people refuse to have their lives organized by the Church and by the teachings they preach. A team of investigators from the University of Chicago, United States was the first to raise questions in relation to the influence that religion could have on children’s education.
Consequently, scientists have gathered a group of 1,000 children with ages between five and 12 and asked them to take part in a series of tests. Participants came from different countries, China, Canada, USA, South Africa, Jordan and Turkey and had different religious backgrounds. Researchers opted for a wide variety of participants because they wanted to have a comprehensive look on the influence of religion on people.
During the experiment, parents were asked to fill various surveys explaining the religious education that children have had, as well as their opinions on punishments and altruistic deeds. The surveys were complemented with scientific observations that scientists made while children watched cartoons during which one of the characters was punished by the other one.
Based on the information that researchers have gathered, it has been concluded that children coming from powerful religious families rarely consider altruistic deeds. The majority of them are less generous than children coming from atheist families. Moreover, children with religious roots feel people have to be harshly punished for their mistakes, as opposed to non-religious children who appear to be more forgiving.
In spite of the interesting observations that the current study has made it is, nonetheless, important to mention that results have been very different when compared to the situation in other countries. At the opposite pole, religious kids from Australia are more altruistic than atheist ones, mainly because spiritual families teach their children to be generous. As a result, scientists think future studies have to be conducted in order to truly determine the influence of religion.
In addition, Reverend Dr. Philip Hughes, from the Christian Research Association has stated that there are two types of religiosity. There are extrinsic and intrinsic religious people and the former tend to care more about applying religious rules within their community. Intrinsic religion has a lot to do with the subjective manner in which individuals perceive religion and less with rules.
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