Trust is more important than religion in encouraging charitable acts

It's well established that religious people tend to volunteer more and give more to charity than the non-religious. There are many factors that could contribute to this. Many charities that explicitly to support co-religionists or to promote religion, and what's more religious people also tend to be older and married, both of which predictBut what's less well understood is how important religion is compared with other factors. In particular Jennifer Glanville (University of Iowa) and … [Read more...]

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Kids in atheist families are more altruistic! The study is sound, but what does it mean?

You may have seen the buzz around a recent study which found that kids in atheist families are more altruistic than kids in religious families. Like any study that reinforces preconceptions of a vocal group, it was social media gold dust.I want to take a critical look at it and some of the objections that have been raised in recent days. I think the attacks are off mark: this is a robust study, at least by the limited standards of most social psychology research! But there is something that … [Read more...]

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Religious authority increases the number of donations but decreases the value

In a run-down market place in Kabul, Afghanistan, groups of men hang around hoping that someone will offer them a job for the day. But today is different. Today they get an unusual offer.Somebody is willing to pay them a whole days wage (about $9) just to fill out a survey. Of course, many agree, and are taken by bus to the survey station. Once the survey is complete, they get handed their money in a blank envelope.Before they go, a guy comes in and makes an appeal to their charitable … [Read more...]

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Marmosets are altruistic too!

A study out today has shown that marmosets, like humans, can and do act truly altruistically (see refs). Altruism is a hot topic in evolution. True altruism would, on the face of it, reduce an individual's reproductive fitness, and so you might expect that natural selection would weed out any altruists.As the Stanford Encylopedia of Philosophy puts it: ... by behaving altruistically an animal reduces its own fitness, so should be at a selective disadvantage vis-à-vis one which behaves … [Read more...]

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