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Highly religious people less motivated by compassion

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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 07 Oct 2009, 20:08
Resident Artist
Post 16 May 2012, 14:19
Sci Guru wrote:
“Love thy neighbor” is preached from many a pulpit. But new research from the University of California, Berkeley, suggests that the highly religious are less motivated by compassion when helping a stranger than are atheists, agnostics and less religious people.

Study finds highly religious people are less motivated by compassion to show generosity than are non-believers

In three experiments, social scientists found that compassion consistently drove less religious people to be more generous. For highly religious people, however, compassion was largely unrelated to how generous they were, according to the findings which are published in the most recent online issue of the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.


The results challenge a widespread assumption that acts of generosity and charity are largely driven by feelings of empathy and compassion, researchers said. In the study, the link between compassion and generosity was found to be stronger for those who identified as being non-religious or less religious.

“Overall, we find that for less religious people, the strength of their emotional connection to another person is critical to whether they will help that person or not,” said UC Berkeley social psychologist Robb Willer, a co-author of the study. “The more religious, on the other hand, may ground their generosity less in emotion, and more in other factors such as doctrine, a communal identity, or reputational concerns.”

Compassion is defined in the study as an emotion felt when people see the suffering of others which then motivates them to help, often at a personal risk or cost.

While the study examined the link between religion, compassion and generosity, it did not directly examine the reasons for why highly religious people are less compelled by compassion to help others. However, researchers hypothesize that deeply religious people may be more strongly guided by a sense of moral obligation than their more non-religious counterparts.

“We hypothesized that religion would change how compassion impacts generous behavior,” said study lead author Laura Saslow, who conducted the research as a doctoral student at UC Berkeley.

Saslow, who is now a postdoctoral scholar at UC San Francisco, said she was inspired to examine this question after an altruistic, nonreligious friend lamented that he had only donated to earthquake recovery efforts in Haiti after watching an emotionally stirring video of a woman being saved from the rubble, not because of a logical understanding that help was needed.

“I was interested to find that this experience – an atheist being strongly influenced by his emotions to show generosity to strangers – was replicated in three large, systematic studies,” Saslow said.

In the first experiment, researchers analyzed data from a 2004 national survey of more than 1,300 American adults. Those who agreed with such statements as “When I see someone being taken advantage of, I feel kind of protective towards them” were also more inclined to show generosity in random acts of kindness, such as loaning out belongings and offering a seat on a crowded bus or train, researchers found.

When they looked into how much compassion motivated participants to be charitable in such ways as giving money or food to a homeless person, non-believers and those who rated low in religiosity came out ahead: “These findings indicate that although compassion is associated with pro-sociality among both less religious and more religious individuals, this relationship is particularly robust for less religious individuals,” the study found.

In the second experiment, 101 American adults watched one of two brief videos, a neutral video or a heartrending one, which showed portraits of children afflicted by poverty. Next, they were each given 10 “lab dollars” and directed to give any amount of that money to a stranger. The least religious participants appeared to be motivated by the emotionally charged video to give more of their money to a stranger.

“The compassion-inducing video had a big effect on their generosity,” Willer said. “But it did not significantly change the generosity of more religious participants.”

In the final experiment, more than 200 college students were asked to report how compassionate they felt at that moment. They then played “economic trust games” in which they were given money to share – or not – with a stranger. In one round, they were told that another person playing the game had given a portion of their money to them, and that they were free to reward them by giving back some of the money, which had since doubled in amount.

Those who scored low on the religiosity scale, and high on momentary compassion, were more inclined to share their winnings with strangers than other participants in the study.

“Overall, this research suggests that although less religious people tend to be less trusted in the U.S., when feeling compassionate, they may actually be more inclined to help their fellow citizens than more religious people,” Willer said.


In addition to Saslow and Willer, other co-authors of the study are UC Berkeley psychologists Dacher Keltner, Matthew Feinberg and Paul Piff; Katharine Clark at the University of Colorado, Boulder; and Sarina Saturn at Oregon State University.

The study was funded by grants from UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science centre, UC Berkeley’s centre for the Economics and Demography of Aging, and the Metanexus Institute.
Science news reference:

My Brother’s Keeper? Compassion Predicts Generosity More Among Less Religious Individuals. Laura R. Saslow, Robb Willer, Matthew Feinberg, Paul K. Piff, Katharine Clark, Dacher Keltner, Sarina R. Saturn. Social Psychological and Personality Science 1948550612444137, first published on April 26, 2012. doi: 10.1177/1948550612444137
Science news source:

University of California Berkeley

Wow, I'm really shocked by the findings of this study. Will further studies would uncover more misconceptions about highly religious people?
Soviet cogitations: 10005
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 14 Jul 2008, 20:01
Ideology: Trotskyism
Philosophized
Post 16 May 2012, 16:04
Religion poisons everything. I'm not surprised.
"Don't know why i'm still surprised with this shit anyway." - Loz
Loz
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 06 Dec 2009, 23:17
Philosophized
Post 16 May 2012, 16:07
I think this is just bullshit.
Just like that ony study which "showed" religious people give much more to charity compared to atheists.
A "study" on 1200 people, on top of that done in California (the most liberal country in the US)...
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 10 Sep 2006, 22:05
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Post 16 May 2012, 16:17
That's a fairly mystical view Mabool.

I'm not surprised by this though. It doesn't matter if you feel bad for someone, you have to help them. That's the command. I don't like a lot of Muslims I've met but if I saw one sick in the street I'd have no other choice. Compassion is a poor reason to help anyone anyways. It was "compassion" that sent white mobs out go kill blacks for defiling some poor white man's daughter. Also this article seems to ignore the fact that fundamentalists donate more to charity than like anyone. Not that much is achieved by this, and in fact much is harmed by charity (another example of compassion gone awry), but it is important when considering these things.

Personally I think if most people were actually trained in their religions, by people who have proletarian interests at heart, the whole loving your brother part would come back in a real way. Not the violent and hateful manner in which it exists today.

@loz: it's true though. Charity sucks though so it's not really that big a deal.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 30 Mar 2010, 01:20
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Post 17 May 2012, 01:10
Loz wrote:
I think this is just bullshit.
Why? The size of the study?
I thought it just confirms what most anti-theists had discovered already.

Dagoth Ur wrote:
I don't like a lot of Muslims I've met but if I saw one sick in the street I'd have no other choice.
So you'd help them if they were Muslim?

Dagoth Ur wrote:
Compassion is a poor reason to help anyone anyways. It was "compassion" that sent white mobs out go kill blacks for defiling some poor white man's daughter.
Like any sort of human "emotional sensation" it can be misdirected... I'm not sure what that proves.

Dagoth Ur wrote:
Also this article seems to ignore the fact that fundamentalists donate more to charity than like anyone.
The article was about the correlation between people's likelihood of being motivated by compassion and their religious (or lack of) beliefs.


Mabool wrote:
Religion poisons everything. I'm not surprised.
How can anyone say they want the old Mabool back?
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 10 Sep 2006, 22:05
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Philosophized
Post 17 May 2012, 03:03
Shigalyov wrote:
So you'd help them if they were Muslim?

The Command is to assist humanity. It deosn't matter what color, gender, or whatever they are.

Shigalyov wrote:
Like any sort of human "emotional sensation" it can be misdirected... I'm not sure what that proves.

That compassion isn't necessarily a good reason to do things.

Shigalyov wrote:
The article was about the correlation between people's likelihood of being motivated by compassion and their religious (or lack of) beliefs. :?:

It's an important point. If more people help out of religious conviction than compassion then religious conviction is the superior method of making people "care".

Shigalyov wrote:
How can anyone say they want the old Mabool back?

Yeah it's ridiculous to think modern Mabool isn't better than Stalinist Mabool. But this was probably the weakest statement I've seen out of him in ages.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 30 Mar 2010, 01:20
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Post 17 May 2012, 03:41
Dagoth Ur wrote:
he Command is to assist humanity. It deosn't matter what color, gender, or whatever they are.
Why mention the Muslim bit then?

Dagoth Ur wrote:
It's an important point. If more people help out of religious conviction than compassion then religious conviction is the superior method of making people "care".
If the study was about "how do we get people to care?" then it would be.
I could be mistaken, but I don't think that was quite the point of the exercise though.

Dagoth Ur wrote:
Yeah it's ridiculous to think modern Mabool isn't better than Stalinist Mabool.
He's like a fine wine or cheese or something.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 10 May 2012, 02:49
New Comrade (Say hi & be nice to me!)
Post 17 May 2012, 04:00
Shigalyov wrote:
I think this is just bullshit. Why? The size of the study?
I thought it just confirms what most anti-theists had discovered already.


Just because something confirms your airy feelings, that doesn't make it science. I really wish it did though, but nope. Also, in my experience, it has been the opposite - most anti-theists seem to be so arrogant, that they'd be loathed to actually try and think about someone else for once.

Shigalyov wrote:
I don't like a lot of Muslims I've met but if I saw one sick in the street I'd have no other choice. So you'd help them if they were Muslim?


Again, some classic anti-theist word twisting.

Shigalyov wrote:
Compassion is a poor reason to help anyone anyways. It was "compassion" that sent white mobs out go kill blacks for defiling some poor white man's daughter. Like any sort of human "emotional sensation" it can be misdirected... I'm not sure what that proves.


I think more than anything, Dagoth was showing how hard it is to pin down what one means by compassion and what is compassionate - the fact that the study uses it like a well defined, and measurable, concept is frankly disturbing. Disturbing because it's supposed to be coming from UC Berkeley. Has this been peer reviewed at all?
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 10 Sep 2006, 22:05
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Philosophized
Post 17 May 2012, 04:06
Shigalyov wrote:
Why mention the Muslim bit then?

Dunno. It's irrelevant.

Shigalyov wrote:
If the study was about "how do we get people to care?" then it would be.
I could be mistaken, but I don't think that was quite the point of the exercise though.

Yeah the point was clearly fundamentalists = cruel, atheists = kind. Which is of course nonsense as almost every fascist I've ever known was a total atheist.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 13 Feb 2008, 15:25
Ideology: Other Leftist
Politburo
Post 17 May 2012, 04:31
I don't see why this is so controversial or even debatable. Of course religious people are guided more by a guiding ideology and belief system than pure compassion. It's not that they all are evil and never ever experience compassion. There's just more to it for them.

Quote:
Which is of course nonsense as almost every fascist I've ever known was a total atheist.


Hitler was theistic and Nazi Germany had an officially sanctioned Christian church with its own interpretation of the Bible. Just wanted to point that out.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 30 Mar 2010, 01:20
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Forum Commissar
Post 17 May 2012, 04:35
MouseOnATree wrote:
Just because something confirms your airy feelings, that doesn't make it science.
I didn't suggest any personal feelings constituted scientific evidence, I just wondered about the nature of Loz's objections.


MouseOnATree wrote:
Also, in my experience, it has been the opposite - most anti-theists seem to be so arrogant, that they'd be loathed to actually try and think about someone else for once.
So your anecdotal evidence is at odds with mine.
Okay .... I guess that's why people try to find other ways to answer these sorts of problems.

MouseOnATree wrote:
Again, some classic anti-theist word twisting.
Just asking a question there too actually.

MouseOnATree wrote:
I think more than anything, Dagoth was showing how hard it is to pin down what one means by compassion and what is compassionate - the fact that the study uses it like a well defined, and measurable, concept is frankly disturbing.
Human emotions are certainly hard to define and pin down, but does this mean we shouldn't attempt to study or understand them because we can't find a definition that everybody's happy with?
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 10 Sep 2006, 22:05
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Philosophized
Post 17 May 2012, 04:38
Fellow Comrade wrote:
Hitler was theistic and Nazi Germany had an officially sanctioned Christian church with its own interpretation of the Bible. Just wanted to point that out.

I didn't really mean neo-nazis when I said fascists. They're like the red-alert communists of fascism. Also Hitler isn't a good benchmark for Nazis. He was a vegetarian too but I'd be amazed if you could find more than a dozen vegan neo-nazis.

Also is anyone clear whether the Nazis endorsed Christian Identity ideas?
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 14 Jul 2008, 20:01
Ideology: Trotskyism
Philosophized
Post 17 May 2012, 12:46
Of course they did not. None of the NSDAP cadres actually believed in Christianity, and they did attack it with the occult-mysticist ideas that they tried to popularize among the population.
"Don't know why i'm still surprised with this shit anyway." - Loz
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 07 Oct 2009, 20:08
Resident Artist
Post 23 May 2012, 11:43
Fellow Comrade wrote:
I don't see why this is so controversial or even debatable. Of course religious people are guided more by a guiding ideology and belief system than pure compassion. It's not that they all are evil and never ever experience compassion. There's just more to it for them.

True. If you're motivated by a reward, the likelihood of displaying genuine compassion since the reward is more important than the deed. Another myth is that the religious are moral while those who aren't are immoral bastards who don't know right from wrong, which is patently false. Many non-religious people may be criminal or lack genuine compassion but atleast such douchebaggery isn't justified with divine arguments.
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