CHICAGO (CBS) — Does a religious upbringing actually make children less generous?
That is the conclusion of a new study by researchers, led by the University Of Chicago. The findings go against conventional wisdom of parents of religious homes, the study found.
The results are based on a sample of 1,170 children worldwide between the ages of 5 and 12. The majority (67 percent) came from Muslim or Christian faiths, while 27 percent identified as non-religious. The remainder of the children came from other faiths, including Judaism and Buddhism, but those small numbers were not included in the study’s findings.
A team of developmental psychologists led by U. of C. professor Jean Decety examined the perceptions and behavior of children in six countries. The study assessed the children’s tendency to share—a measure of their altruism—and their tendency to judge and punish others for anti-social behavior.
Some of the children studied were from Chicago.
The study not only found that children from religious homes were less altruistic than those from a secular family, but they also tended to be more punitive and judgmental of bad behavior.
“Our findings 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,” the study concluded.