Study Finds Religious Children More Selfish Than Atheists

According to the research published in the journal Cell, religious children seem to be less generous and altruistic than their non-religious counterparts.


Most religious people live with the notion that raising their kids within their chosen faith ensures their children to become more generous and altruistic than secular kids when they grow up. But a new study at the University of Chicago suggests that the opposite is true.

According to the research published in the journal Cell, religious children seem to be less generous and altruistic than their non-religious counterparts. 1170 children between the ages of five to twelve from six countries – Canada, China, Jordan, South Africa, Turkey and the United States – were volunteered for the study. Majority of the households identified themselves as Christian, Muslim or non-religious and children from Jewish, Buddhist and Hindu homes were included as well, reports Discovery News.

The results showed that children from religious families were less likely to share with others than were children from non-religious families. AAAS reports that children from religious homes, particularly Muslims, showed a greater inclination to judge someone’s misdeeds as wrong and punish the perpetrators.

“Our findings contradict the common-sense and popular assumption that children from religious households are more altruistic and kind toward others. In our study, kids from atheist and non-religious families were, in fact, more generous,” says the study’s lead author Jean Decety.

Decety has already expanded his research into 14 countries and he plans to continue his study on how religions influence children’s behavior.



  1. This investigation is interesting, but has some flaws. Let’s say we examine how much men are willing to share their girlfriend with other people. It is obvious, that the outcome of such a research will not show generosity alone. It is the relation to the object, here the girlfriend, that matters. And the same with children and stickers. A possibility is that children from religious homes, patriculary the smallest, are more fond of their stickers. They mayby see more possibilities in them. Or they are planning to showthem to friends. It is also a possibility that children from non religious homes are more used to stickers or they for som other reason dont mean much to them. Finally the amount of time that passes from the children are handed the stickers to the time when they give them away may be important. Religious children might just be a little ‘slower’ not actually less generous.

  2. I’m wondering what the selection parameters were, what the studied situations looked like, etc. “Judging someones’ misdeeds as wrong,” for example, is a confusing statement; “misdeeds” are by any dictionary definition wrongs. Did the study include a bias that religious kids were “less kind” because they believed it was “wrong” to misbehave?

    1. Hey, Davis. Maybe you just saw the picture, not read the article. Well, that’s what I got when I googled “Children Praying”. I meant no hate for jews or any other religions, but I can’t do anything if you take that way. Let’s be rational. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

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