Religious kids more selfish than non-religious kids.

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Myrn10
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Religious kids more selfish than non-religious kids.

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Global News
November 7, 2015 11:58 am
Religious children are more selfish than non-religious kids: study

By Tania Kohut Web Writer Global News

http://globalnews.ca/news/2325185/religious-children-are-more-selfish-than-non-religious-kids-study/?utm_source=Homegnca-calgary&utm_medium=MostPopular&utm_campaign=2014

While religion is generally believed to be tied to higher morals, a new study found that non-religious children are more likely to share, and be more empathetic than their religious counterparts.

Researchers studied 1,170 children, aged five through 12, in six countries: Canada, China, Jordan, Turkey, the U.S. and South Africa. The children were primarily from Christian (23.9 per cent), Muslim (43 per cent) and non-religious (27.6 per cent) backgrounds.

The children were put through a sticker test referred to as “the dictator game”; they were shown 30 stickers and told to choose their favourite 10, and were told the stickers were theirs to keep. They were also told that not everyone would be able to receive the stickers.

The results? Christian and Muslim children exhibited similar levels of sharing, “however, both were significantly less altruistic than non-religious children.”

The children were also put through a “moral sensitivity task,” and shown a short, visual depiction of interpersonal harm, ie. a person pushing and/or bumping into others.

Researchers found that the religious children tended to be less forgiving of such offenses, and to support harsher penalties for such actions than non-religious children.

The parents of the children were also assessed; religious parents were more likely to report that their children were more empathetic and sensitive to the plight of others.

“However, religiousness was inversely predictive of children’s altruism and positively correlated with their punitive tendencies,” the study states.
The researchers noted that strong religious belief of “right and wrong” often leaves little room for a grey zone. This might prompt children from religious backgrounds to be more judgmental of other’s actions, and believe that interpersonal harm is more “mean” and deserving of punishment than non-religious children.

“Together these results reveal the similarity across countries in how religion negatively influences children’s altruism, challenging the view that religiosity facilitates prosocial behavior,” the study states.

The study, The Negative Association between Religiousness and Children’s Altruism across the World, was recently published in Current Biology.
Last edited by Myrn10 on Nov 8th, 2015, 4:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Myrn10
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Re: Religious kids more selfish than non-religious kids.

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The PDF report from above—no, not that ‘above’.

Current Biology
The Negative Association between Religiousness and Children’s Altruism across the World

http://www.cell.com/current-biology/pdf/S0960-9822(15)01167-7.pdf

Authors
Jean Decety, Jason M. Cowell,
Kang Lee, Randa Mahasneh,
Susan Malcolm-Smith, Bilge Selcuk,
Xinyue Zhou

Highlights
d Family religious identification decreases children’s altruistic behaviors
d Religiousness predicts parent-reported child sensitivity to injustices and empathy
d Children from religious households are harsher in their punitive tendencies

In Brief

Decety and colleagues assessed altruism and moral cognition in six countries.
Parents in religious households reported that their children expressed more empathy and sensitivity for justice in everyday life. However, religiousness was inversely predictive of children’s altruism and positively correlated with their punitive tendencies.
. . .
Overall, our findings cast light on the cultural input of religion on prosocial behavior and contradict the common-sense and popular assumption that children from religious households are more altruistic and kind toward others. More generally, they call into question whether religion is vital for moral development, supporting the idea that the secularization of moral discourse will not reduce human kindness—in fact, it will do just the opposite (Beit-Hallahmi, B. (2010). Morality and immorality among the irreligious. In Atheism and Secularity, Volume 1, P. Zuckerman, ed. (Santa Barbara: ABC-Clio), pp. 113–148).
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Re: Religious kids more selfish than non-religious kids.

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Most studies turn out to be false, and I suspect this will be in that camp.

Several problems. First, it did not measure altruism. It measured how many stickers the subjects would prefer to keep, instead of having given to randomly-selected schoolmates. Since the subjects might dispose of the stickers kept in altruistic ways (give to siblings, friends, grandma, grandpa, Sunday school class) the measured response is not a reliable indicator of altruism at all.

Another problem is the use of a regression model that omits relevant explanatory variables correlated with the included variables, resulting in overstating or understating the coefficients for included variables, implying they are more important than they really are. This is common in the social sciences, and is one reason nobody should take this kind of "research" very seriously, even when the researchers have not made the data up.
Last edited by Glacier on Nov 8th, 2015, 6:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Religious kids more selfish than non-religious kids.

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While I certainly love your response, Glacier, because you have given a partially accurate explanation (the last paragraph, as opposed to the first sentence, which seems more glib), I find this study gives a perfect notional explanation why certain "bible thumpers" have grown up to be exceptionally non-empathetic and mean-spirited.
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Re: Religious kids more selfish than non-religious kids.

Post by Hmmm »

So Myrn (OP)what's your opinion about this? You post a study/story but give no thoughts of your own whatsoever.
I thought you said your dog doesn't bite....That's not my dog.
Myrn10
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Re: Religious kids more selfish than non-religious kids.

Post by Myrn10 »

Thanks for asking. Glacier’s reply has me digging out my little hand-me-down textbook, How to Lie with Statistics by Darrell Huff as well as my similar textbook, Critical Reasoning by Jerry Cederblom and David W. Paulson. But my first reaction on a close reading of the PDF in bed last night was that the parents of the children involved in the study may have been curious to see the results for the possible betterment of themselves and the raising of their children. The second curious group might have been the religious authorities and others for the same purpose. I would trust them to observe and discuss it, as I will be observing my ‘little one’ (who is currently younger that the children in the study).
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Re: Religious kids more selfish than non-religious kids.

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Glacier wrote:Most studies turn out to be false, and I suspect this will be in that camp.

Several problems. First, it did not measure altruism. It measured how many stickers the subjects would prefer to keep, instead of having given to randomly-selected schoolmates. Since the subjects might dispose of the stickers kept in altruistic ways (give to siblings, friends, grandma, grandpa, Sunday school class) the measured response is not a reliable indicator of altruism at all.

The following is the dictator game procedure that was cited in the study. It looks like it does measure the number of stickers the subjects give away to anonymous beneficiaries in the classroom—perhaps as opposed to taking the ones they keep home and distributing them among known beneficiaries within a more intimate social circle.

Evolution & Behaviour

May 2007Volume 28, Issue 3, Pages 168–175

Children's altruistic behavior in the dictator game

Joyce F. Benenson, Joanna Pascoe, Nicola Radmore

http://www.ehbonline.org/article/S1090-5138(06)00093-6/fulltext

2.2. Procedure

. . .

Every child was brought individually to an empty room or hallway by an interviewer. The child and the interviewer sat across from each other at a child-sized table. To begin, the interviewer introduced herself, asked the child's name, and informed the child that she had some stickers for the child. The interviewer then emptied one bag of 30 highly attractive stickers in front of the child so that all stickers were displayed face up in front of the child. The interviewer next asked the child to select the 10 stickers that the child liked most. As demonstrated in pilot testing, children of all ages treasured the stickers and selected their stickers with great care. Following their selection, the interviewer asked the child “Do you like your stickers?” All children affirmed forcefully that they liked their stickers.

Once a child had chosen the stickers, the child then was told that the stickers now belonged to him/her but that the child might like to give some stickers to a girl/boy in the class because the interviewer would not have time to give stickers to all children in the class. The interviewer emphasized that the child did not have to give away any stickers and could keep all of them. The child further was informed that neither the child nor the interviewer would know who received the child's stickers. Instead, another interviewer would distribute the stickers to those children who were not interviewed.

The interviewer then went to great lengths to ensure that the child understood that the child's decision was completely anonymous. The child was informed that if the child wanted to donate some stickers to another girl/boy in the class, then the child should place the stickers in a white envelope and place the white envelope in a large pile of identical white envelopes. The child should place the stickers that the child wanted to keep for the self in the brown envelope marked with the child's name. The interviewer further explained to the child that she would close her eyes and cover them with her hands so she would never know what the child decided to do. The interviewer also emphasized that she would never know what the child decided because she could not look inside the envelopes. Finally, the interviewer asked the child if the child understood the instructions. If the child did not, the interviewer repeated them until the child indicated comprehension.

Standardized instructions were as follows: “Here are a bunch of stickers. Choose 10 that you like a lot. OK, now I only have time to give stickers to some of the girls/boys in your class, but not to all the girls/boys. If you want to, you can give some of your stickers to a girl/boy in this class whom I do not give stickers to. You do not have to give any of your stickers away, but if you want to, you could give some to a girl/boy. I do not know which girl/boy will get them, and you will not know. Another lady will decide who gets them later.”

She continued “It is important that you understand that you do not have to give any of your stickers away, that you will not know who gets them, and that I will not know if you decide to give any of your stickers away. If you want to give any of these stickers away to another girl/boy in this class, then put the stickers you want to give away in this white envelope. I will close my eyes and cover them beforehand, and you put the stickers you want to keep in this brown envelope with your name on it, and the stickers you want to give away in the white envelope. Then put the white envelope in with all these other white envelopes. OK, are you ready?”

Once the child understood the instructions, the interviewer reminded the child which stickers went in the white and brown envelopes, closed her eyes, covered them, and turned away from the table. After approximately 2 min, she asked the child if the child had finished. Once the child responded affirmatively, the interviewer then thanked the child for helping her and told the child to take the brown envelope and return to the classroom. For ethical reasons, so that children who did not have the opportunity to participate in the study would not feel neglected, after the entire study had been completed, the interviewers returned to each school and distributed nine stickers to each child who did not participate in those classes where the study was conducted. Although this involved a small amount of deception towards participating children, the cost of the deception appeared small relative to the benefits of ensuring that all children obtained stickers.


Glacier wrote:Another problem is the use of a regression model that omits relevant explanatory variables correlated with the included variables, resulting in overstating or understating the coefficients for included variables, implying they are more important than they really are. This is common in the social sciences, and is one reason nobody should take this kind of "research" very seriously, even when the researchers have not made the data up.

Sorry, Glacier, I no more understand what you are saying here than I understand the formulas that the researchers used to determine their findings in the study. Since you seem to be more in the know, would you please be kind enough to clarify both for us in plain language?
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Re: Religious kids more selfish than non-religious kids.

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Here’s a counterargument.

SKEWED STUDY CLAIMS ATHEIST CHILDREN ARE MORE ALTRUISTIC THAN ‘RELIGIOUS’ CHILDREN

BREITBART

http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/11/09/skewed-study-claims-atheist-children-altruistic-religious-children

by THOMAS D. WILLIAMS, PH.D.9 Nov 2015

New research published by a team of U.S. neuroscientists claims that children from atheist families exhibit greater generosity and kindness than their religious counterparts, but lumps together a majority of Muslim children with a minority of Christian children under the generic heading of “religious.”

The study was conducted on 1,170 children between 5 and 12 years of age from Muslim, Christian and non-religious families across six different countries: China, Jordan, Canada, Turkey, South Africa and the U.S.

The sample comprised nearly double as many Muslim children (43 percent) as Christians (24 percent), and another 28 percent were children from families that self-identified as non-religious. Many of the media outlets reporting on the results of the study failed to mention that the so-called religious children were mostly Muslims.

“Overall, our findings … contradict the commonsense and popular assumption that children from religious households are more altruistic and kind towards others,” said the authors of “The Negative Association Between Religiousness and Children’s Altruism Across the World,” published this week in Current Biology.

The study found that on the whole, the “religious” children tended to be less tolerant of harmful actions and favored harsh penalties than the non-religious children, as well as showing decreased altruistic behaviors.

One of the scientists, Jean Decety, contended that religion can permit people to behave badly if they think they have already done something good to balance their behavior, such as praying, at another time. Decety referred to this tendency as “moral licensing.”

“It’s an unconscious bias. They don’t even see that’s not compatible with what they’ve been learning in church,” he said, without explaining how his research led to this interpretation.

Results of the new study run counter to extensive research done previously that finds religious people within the United States to be significantly more generous than non-religious people.

The massive Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey conducted in the year 2000 across a group of 30,000 U.S. citizens found that religious people are more likely to give both of their time and their money than their non-religious counterparts.

The study found the variance between “religious” and “secular” giving to be dramatic. Religious people are 25 percentage points more likely than secularists to donate money (91 percent versus 66 percent) and 23 points more likely to volunteer time (67 percent versus 44 percent). In real dollars this translates into an average annual giving of $2,210 per person among the religious as compared to $642 among the secular.

Regarding hours volunteered, religious people were found to volunteer an average of 12 times per year, while secular people volunteer an average of 5.8 times. To put this into perspective, the study found that actively “religious” people make up 33 percent of the U.S. population but are responsible for 52 percent of donations and account for 45 percent of times volunteered.
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Re: Religious kids more selfish than non-religious kids.

Post by Myrn10 »

Perhaps, Glacier doesn’t need to reply to what I brought up earlier.

From the above article, and my little hand-me-down textbook, How to Lie with Statistics, by Darrell Huff, I see where Decety might have improved his study if he’d used equal random samples of at least 1,000 children (the academically accepted minimum sample size for surveys) from each of his major comparative groups.
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Re: Religious kids more selfish than non-religious kids.

Post by LANDM »

I certainly don't intend to answer for glacier but it is apparent that you were asked if you have an opinion on this.
You didn't answer. Rather, you gave another study as a counter argument.
Do you have thoughts on the thread that you started? Not trying to be antagonistic but you simply gave a study and made no comment. Surely, if you went to the trouble to actually click cut and paste, there must be *some* thought process behind it.
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Re: Religious kids more selfish than non-religious kids.

Post by Myrn10 »

Earlier, Hmm asked me the same questions so, again, thanks for asking.

Myrn10 wrote:Thanks for asking. . . . my first reaction on a close reading of the PDF (of the study itself) . . . was that the parents of the children involved in the study may have been curious to see the results for the possible betterment of themselves and the raising of their children. The second curious group might have been the religious authorities and others for the same purpose. I would trust them to observe and discuss it, as I will be observing my ‘little one’ (who is currently younger that the children in the study).


My opinion, following my own research and analysis, is that the original premise needs more work done on it to prove if it's true or false. But I will bring the subject up with my religious authority because one should always be concerned for their child's development and be working on their behalf.
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Re: Religious kids more selfish than non-religious kids.

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I find it refreshing that a definite view on the topic wasn't expressed by the OP. It encourages discussion instead of another meaningless castanet argument.

We don't need to make up our minds on something straight off and then rigidly defend that view, we can simply ask questions of ourselves and each other with an open mind and consider things for however long it takes before taking a side.

Radical idea, I realize, and not the norm on the forum but, hey, why not?

I hope you start a trend, Myrn10
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Re: Religious kids more selfish than non-religious kids.

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Woah! I’m flattered. I’m just a lowly student who is beginning to have a great appreciation for thought and thorough research and has a ton of people working their butts off to see me succeed for which I am very grateful. Thanks so much for your kind encouragement--Glacier and KG too.
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Re: Religious kids more selfish than non-religious kids.

Post by OREZ »

I'm interested in reading the article in more depth when I get a chance. At the moment, I'm wondering about the objective behind doing this in the first place and curious to see if it looks like there is an confirmation bias at play here but then I'm suspicious by nature, I guess.
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Re: Religious kids more selfish than non-religious kids.

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A recent study came out suggesting that atheist children are more altruistic than the children of believers. I’m an atheist so you might think I’d be happy to count this as a win for Team Atheism and forget about it. However, I’m also a social scientist so I was very interested in the methods of this study. After actually reading the journal article, I found three major flaws in this study.


http://www.patheos.com/blogs/accordingt ... ious-kids/
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