A study conducted by the Nottingham University Business School as part of government funded research into the role of religion in public life, has concluded that being religious does not make you a kinder person.
The co-author of the report, Dr Robert Hoffmann, an Associate Professor of Economics said “One would imagine the charity inherent in many well-known articles of faith might have some impact on everyday behaviour.”
The team of behavioural experts asked a group of people of different faiths to take part in tasks which involved sharing money with others.
The results showed that people shared money in the same proportions when they did not know the faith of the person they were sending it to, but they were more generous when sending money to people they were told were of the same faith. They were also told that they would be able to keep whatever they did not send.
The conclusion was that religion does not affect how people react in general terms, but their behaviour is significantly changed when they interact with those they know to be of the same (or no) faith.
The participants included Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist and non-religious volunteers.
Charity is something that is within the individual, rather than something that can be instilled through faith. In fact, the study shows that faith can inhibit charitable interaction with people who are considered to have different belief systems.
We think that a person’s religious beliefs do not make them a good or bad, or generous or mean person. In every group of people there are so many different personalities, that to expect any group of people to be the same as one another is not really a fair conclusion.
People are people and everyone is different in many ways, but we are all part of one humanity whatever we believe in, and whatever path we choose to follow to get to the same place.
We think that this study indicates that it is not possible to have a view about another person based on some artificial perception, such as religion, race, or any other thing. The only way to know for sure what a person is like is to take time to get to know them – treat them as a human being first and foremost.