Very religious people may be more likely to give even when they don’t feel compassionate

April 30, 2012

“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 likely to be motivated by compassion when helping a stranger than are atheists, agnostics and less religious people.

In three experiments, social scientists found less religious people’s generosity was consistently driven by compassion. For highly religious people, however, compassion was largely unrelated to how generous they were, according to the findings which are published in the July 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. … Read more »