By Warren Cornwall - AAAS
Religious doctrines typically urge the faithful to treat others with compassion and to put the greater good before selfish interests. But when it comes to generosity, nonreligious kids seem to be more giving, according to a new study of 1170 children from around the world.
Children from religious homes—particularly Muslims—also showed a greater inclination to judge someone's misdeeds as wrong and punish the perpetrators. The study, the first large-scale analysis of its kind, suggests that religion and moral behavior don't necessarily go hand-in-hand for children.
"Our findings support the notion that the secularization of moral discourse does not reduce human kindness. In fact it does just the opposite," says Jean Decety, a developmental neuroscientist at the University of Chicago, in Illinois, and the study's lead author.