Religion makes children mean

Could you elaborate, please? And it’d meanness that makes kids mean IMO.

A lot of Dopers aren’t going to click on links without some kind of description.

ignorance and fear make people hate and this can lead to violence . Children learn how to hate from their parents . When my parents were one of the first Jewish family to move into their new house it was ignorance and fear that made people not trust my parents. People knew nothing about my parents religion , once people realize my parents were no difference than them they began to lose their ignorance and fear . Me being Jewish didn’t made me mean , it made me more understanding about other people and not to judge them by the color of their skin or how they worship.

From the first link:

And the second link requires me to turn off ad blocking, so not gonna go there.

And just let me repeat: correlation is not causation. They may have found a correlation between religious upbringing (which is not the same thing as “religion”) and “meanness” (whatever that may be) but they have not established a causal relationship.

I swear, people are getting dumber every day. I am, of course, referring to the person who wrote the article in the first link, and her editor.

Of course not, but a strong and well-documented correlation is a strong indicator of causation. Or, at least, a third factor acting as a common cause for both correlated phenomena, which might very well be the case here. The same social disorder could be the cause of both religiosity and meanness.

I haven’t read the articles, but that third factor might be tribalism—dividing the world into “us” and “them.” You can certainly have religion without tribalism and tribalism without religion, but religious tribalism (or tribalism manifesting itself through religion) seems to be all too common.

I remember when the study came out and made its initial triumphant rounds on Facebook. Some explanations of problems with the study (design and conclusions) are here and here.

Some points made:

[li]Evaluating 5-year-olds through 12-year-olds on the same scale ignores age-related developmental differences.[/li][li]Definitions of “altruism” and “religiosity” were. . .creative.[/li][li]Motivation of study participants was ascribed rather than investigated.[/li][li]P-values are subject to abuse.[/li][/ul]

There’s another analysis I read at the time which pointed out the obvious problem that the results were all highly correlated with geography, which not coincidentally correlated with religion, and that no effort had been made to correct for that. If I find that analysis I’ll post it also.

children are mean to each other because they can get away with it. Adults rarely do anything to stop it, and the only potential consequence is that the kid(s) they’re picking on might beat them up. not coincidentally this is why they usually gang up and bully the kids least likely to fight back.

Dude. Not naming names, but somebody around here was clearly raised religious.

It’s actually a pretty good study, for an observational study. It looked across cultures. It looked at a lot of children of varying ages. And it looked at more than one religion. In my opinion, the most interesting thing was the parental response. The religious parents thought their kids were more emphatic and altruistic than others, but more objective testing revealed otherwise. Suggesting that religion is having a very different impact on behavior than what the religious folks claim. More in line with everyday observations of the negative impact of religion on society.

Curr Biol. 2015 Nov 16;25(22):2951-5. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2015.09.056. Epub 2015 Nov 5.
The Negative Association between Religiousness and Children’s Altruism across the World.
Decety J1, Cowell JM2, Lee K3, Mahasneh R4, Malcolm-Smith S5, Selcuk B6, Zhou X7.
Author information
Prosocial behaviors are ubiquitous across societies. They emerge early in ontogeny and are shaped by interactions between genes and culture. Over the course of middle childhood, sharing approaches equality in distribution. Since 5.8 billion humans, representing 84% of the worldwide population, identify as religious, religion is arguably one prevalent facet of culture that influences the development and expression of prosociality. While it is generally accepted that religion contours people’s moral judgments and prosocial behavior, the relation between religiosity and morality is a contentious one. Here, we assessed altruism and third-party evaluation of scenarios depicting interpersonal harm in 1,170 children aged between 5 and 12 years in six countries (Canada, China, Jordan, Turkey, USA, and South Africa), the religiousness of their household, and parent-reported child empathy and sensitivity to justice. Across all countries, parents in religious households reported that their children expressed more empathy and sensitivity for justice in everyday life than non-religious parents. However, religiousness was inversely predictive of children’s altruism and positively correlated with their punitive tendencies. Together these results reveal the similarity across countries in how religion negatively influences children’s altruism, challenging the view that religiosity facilitates prosocial behavior.
Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
PMID: 26549259 [PubMed - in process]


This is a surprise to anyone???

Well, yes, it is a surprise. And I don’t credit it for a second.

Seconded this position.

Pretty sure I could create a parallel study using the same kinds of information that show religious kids are, in fact, MORE altruistic than non-religious kids.

Don’t believe everything you read and I would almost go as far as saying literally no study like this is researched without any personal bias by the author

Because it doesn’t tell you what you want to hear?


It’s been my experience that whenever a study comes out that supposedly proves how nasty or stupid all those religious people are, it’s worth checking the source. When I do, it turns out that either the study is being misrepresented by the media or it was junk to begin with. I’m glad that Barrett Bonden provided the two links in his post, which shows how weak this supposed research study is. The claim that the study measured anything about anybody being “mean” or “altruistic” is false. It measured how children played in a particular “game” (in the game theory sense) called the Dictator Game. There is no proven relationship between how individuals play game theory games and personality traits such as being “mean”.

The study also did not actually record whether or not the children were religious or secular.

A good demonstration of the biases or the researchers, certainly.

Social psych with potentially vague operational definitions makes me mean. Instead of murderin’ I’m gonna spike peoples’ food with hot sauce.