Highly religious people are less motivated by compassion when helping a stranger than atheists, agnostics and less religious people, according to a new study and reported by MedicalXpress.The study, which will published in the July issue of Social Psychological and Personality Science, found that people who were less religious were driven to be more generous when they saw people suffering.
Robb Willer, a UC Berkeley social psychologist and co-author of the study, said that people who are more religious “ground their generosity less in emotion, and more in other factors such as doctrine, a communal identity, or reputational concerns.”
For less religious people, “the strength of their emotional connection to another person is critical to whether they will help that person or not.”
Overall, according to Willer, the 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.”
The study did not directly examine the reasons for why highly religious people are less compelled by compassion to help others.
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