Does growing up in a religious family make you MEAN?

by Divergent 9 Replies latest jw friends

  • Divergent

    Yeah, I was mean. Could it be that I was not encouraged to have non-JW's as friends, so I viewed them as insignificant? Could it be that I found it difficult to live up to "Christian standards" and took it out on others? Could it be that I was forced to spend more time on worthless "spiritual pursuits" & had limited "friends" in the cong that I didn't socialize much with those on the "outside" & as a result had no real friends? Was I mean because I was brought up & guided in the wrong way? Hmmm.....

    Does growing up in a religious family make you MEAN? Christian and Muslim children found to be less altruistic than the offspring of atheists

    Children who grew up in religious families are less altruistic than those who are up atheist, researchers have found.

    They discovered children from religious families were less likely to share with others than were children from non-religious families.

    Those from households identifying as Christian and Muslim were significantly less likely than children from non-religious households to share.

    'Our findings contradict the common-sense and popular assumption that children from religious households are more altruistic and kind toward others,' said Professor Jean Decety of the university of Chicago, who led the study, which was published in Current Biology.

    'In our study, kids from atheist and non-religious families were, in fact, more generous.'

    The team of developmental psychologists examined the perceptions and behaviour of children in six countries.

    The study assessed the children's tendency to share—a measure of their altruism—and their inclination to judge and punish others for bad behaviour.

    Children from religious families were less likely to share with others than were children from non-religious families.

    A religious upbringing also was associated with more punitive tendencies in response to anti-social behavior.

    For the altruism task, children participated in a version of the 'Dictator Game,' in which they were given 10 stickers and provided an opportunity to share them with another unseen child.

    Altruism was measured by the average number of stickers shared.

    For the moral sensitivity task, children watched short animations in which one character pushes or bumps another, either accidentally or purposefully.

    After seeing each situation, children were asked about how mean the behaviour was and the amount of punishment the character deserved.

    The results were at odds with the perceptions of religious parents, who were more likely than non-religious parents to report that their children had a high degree of empathy and sensitivity to the plight of others.

    The study included 1,170 children between ages 5 and 12, from six countries—Canada, China, Jordan, South Africa, Turkey and the United States.

    Parents completed questionnaires about their religious beliefs and practices and perceptions of their children's empathy and sensitivity to justice.

    From the questionnaires, three large groupings were established: Christian, Muslim and not religious.

    Children from other religious households did not reach a large enough sample size to be included in additional analyses.

    Consistent with previous studies, in general the children were more likely to share as they got older.

    But children from households identifying as Christian and Muslim were significantly less likely than children from non-religious households to share their stickers.

    The negative relation between religiosity and altruism grew stronger with age; children with a longer experience of religion in the household were the least likely to share.

    Children from religious households favoured stronger punishments for anti-social behaviour and judged such behaviour more harshly than non-religious children.

    These results support previous studies of adults, which have found religiousness is linked with punitive attitudes toward interpersonal offences.

    'Together, these results reveal the similarity across countries in how religion negatively influences children's altruism.

    'They challenge the view that religiosity facilitates prosocial behaviour, and call into question whether religion is vital for moral development—suggesting the secularization of moral discourse does not reduce human kindness. In fact, it does just the opposite,' Decety said.

  • Xanthippe

    I think my daughter is kinder and more altruistic than I am. She grew up in our atheistic family. I believe in giving to charity and I think altruism is real, I'm not cynical about it but she of her own initiative joined Kiva as a teenager to lend small amounts of money to people in the third world to start businesses.

    She allows people she meets longer than I do to show what they are really like. I tend to get fed up and give up more quickly with people. So I suppose a religious background has made me more judgemental. I tend to keep people more at arms length than she does.

    Really when I don't give up on people because I can't, like at work, I find people are many-faceted and I see sides to them I didn't expect. Kindness when I was ill or willingness to cooperate when things are tough at work. I'm still learning about people, stuff my daughter probably knows instinctively because she's been allowed to mix with all different types of people all her life.

  • ThinkerBelle

    Interesting study, but I don't necessarily agree with it from my experience. I was always kind and empathetic to others. I shared my toys and I am a born in. I think a lot more plays into it than just religion like upbrininging, personality, and culture - which is affected by religion, but not wholly. My parents were always kind and helpful. My mom was a caregiver and I would help her with some of the day out excursions ( saw first had how people can be mean towards people who are "different,), so maybe that shaped me. I don't recall being mean to or being instructed to ignore kids at school. Sure, I wasn't allowed to hang out with them for the most part after school unless it was for a project, but in school I had several friends, even had "clubs" with a few in elementary. They were also religious from religious households and treated people kindly and me even as a JW. Maybe I don't relate to the story because I'm more of a humanist than most Christians too.......and my youngest son is the epitomy of kindness towards others and he's only known the JW way thus far.

    Adding - however, I do know of many JWs and religious zealots who would fit this bill. I've seen unkind atheists as well (my BIL, for example).

  • Bonsai

    It made me mean that's for sure. I treated my disfella-shipped siblings like crap. I made fun of Catholics, Mormons, any pagan religion. I even told classmates that God was going to destroy them if they didn't become J-dubs. It's gonna take years to undo the damage that I have caused.

    Interesting study results.

  • tiki
    Ok think a lot of it depends on the attitude the parents follow parental examples pretty closely unless they hate it so much they work hard to be different. I have seen a pattern in certain jw kids who grow up and hit their twenties and become excessively self righteous. I think it is a subconscious safety mechanism to displace cognitive dissonance.
  • truthseeker100

    You want to see the real face of meanness!!

    The Governing body probably look at this with an envious eye.

  • Beth Sarim
    Beth Sarim
    Just an amazing find. I think that the less and less religious people are kinder and kinder, amazing but true. JW families are some of the most rude people imaginable to non JW's, especially Catholics or other forms of Christianity.
  • truthseeker100
    And here is my little mention about sacrifice. It doesn't matter if you come from small town USA Austrailia or Europe . Everyone makes difference.
  • Tornintwo

    I actually think birthdays are quite important in this respect and missing out on them has a more profound effect than you would at first think to the jw youth. The WT teaches us that they glorify the individual but actually the opposite is true. When kids celebrate someone else's birthday, they learn it is someone else's special day, that they have to take a back seat and wait their turn, whilst the attention and gifts go to the birthday boy/girl. They have to give something maybe they would have wanted themselves. But then with patience their own special day comes along.

    At these and other celebrations you have to think about others, There is also chance to play at party games which involve sharing, taking turns and losing plus just being part of the wider community. It may sound simplistic, but looking back at my older kids who we raised as JWs until mid teens when they have left (one a year before me and one just after me) I can see that they really missed out on a lot of life lessons through not having a part in such celebrations.

  • Vidiot

    Divergent - "Does growing up in a religious family make you MEAN?"



    But it helps. :smirk:

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