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 Topic: Highly religious people are less motivated by compassion than are non-believers

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  • Highly religious people are less motivated by compassion than are non-believers
     OP - May 01, 2012, 06:49 AM

    Quote
    “Love thy neighbor” is preached from many a pulpit. But new research from the University of California, Berkeley, suggests that the highly religious are less motivated by compassion when helping a stranger than are atheists, agnostics and less religious people.

    In three experiments, social scientists found that compassion consistently drove less religious people to be more generous. For highly religious people, however, compassion was largely unrelated to how generous they were, according to the findings which are published in the most recent online issue of the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

    The results challenge a widespread assumption that acts of generosity and charity are largely driven by feelings of empathy and compassion, researchers said. In the study, the link between compassion and generosity was found to be stronger for those who identified as being non-religious or less religious.

    “Overall, we find that for less religious people, the strength of their emotional connection to another person is critical to whether they will help that person or not,” said UC Berkeley social psychologist Robb Willer, a co-author of the study. “The more religious, on the other hand, may ground their generosity less in emotion, and more in other factors such as doctrine, a communal identity, or reputational concerns.”

    UC Berkeley News Center
  • Re: Highly religious people are less motivated by compassion than are non-believers
     Reply #1 - May 01, 2012, 07:33 AM

    Does it matter?

    ETA: What I mean is that without conclusions about how charitable each group actually is in comparison to the other, the reasons why they are or are not hardly seem significant.

    IOW, if in general religious people give more charity despite being less motivated by compassion, then it would be rather daft for non-religious people to say "Well we may give bugger all, but at least when we do we're motivated by real emotion".

    If you think your religion is worth killing for, please start with yourself.
  • Re: Highly religious people are less motivated by compassion than are non-believers
     Reply #2 - May 01, 2012, 07:52 AM

    Yes, it does matter. Religious people tend to use the needy as a means to their own ends (i.e. to get rewarded), which I think is unethical.
  • Re: Highly religious people are less motivated by compassion than are non-believers
     Reply #3 - May 01, 2012, 07:55 AM

    Surely the results count too, though. Or, I assume they would count if you're one of the people who needs the charity. Those people are less likely to be interested in the motivations of donors and more interested in how much and how often they are donating.

    To put it another way, in practical terms an "unethical" religious person may be doing more good than an "ethical" non-religious person.

    If you think your religion is worth killing for, please start with yourself.
  • Re: Highly religious people are less motivated by compassion than are non-believers
     Reply #4 - May 01, 2012, 07:58 AM

    Oh and there's also the other factor: that being motivated by compassion is still an attempt to minimise your own emotional discomfort, and is therefore a form of reward-seeking behaviour anyway.

    If you think your religion is worth killing for, please start with yourself.
  • Re: Highly religious people are less motivated by compassion than are non-believers
     Reply #5 - May 01, 2012, 07:59 AM

    Very sound point

    "Nobody who lived through the '50s thought the '60s could've existed. So there's always hope."-Tuli Kupferberg

    What apple stores are like.....

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S8QmZWv-eBI
  • Re: Highly religious people are less motivated by compassion than are non-believers
     Reply #6 - May 01, 2012, 08:08 AM

    Surely the results count too, though.

    Of course they count. But the motivations count as well.

    Oh and there's also the other factor: that being motivated by compassion is still an attempt to minimise your own emotional discomfort, and is therefore a form of reward-seeking behaviour anyway.

    I think that there needs to be a differentiation between internal feelings of doing good and external rewards. Feeling bad for others is itself a sign of caring about them.
  • Re: Highly religious people are less motivated by compassion than are non-believers
     Reply #7 - May 01, 2012, 08:12 AM

    Of course they count. But the motivations count as well.

    Which is more important?


    Quote
    I think that there needs to be a differentiation between internal feelings of doing good and external rewards.

    But that distinction isn't relevant here, because on the one hand you have a feeling of doing good out of compassion (which is arguably just a form of thinly disguised self-pity anyway) and on the other you have a feeling of doing the right thing because it's your duty. Both are internal.


    Quote
    Feeling bad for others is itself a sign of caring about them.

    In a roundabout way, yes. However, which is likely to matter more to the person needing the charity: how you feel about it, or what you do about it?

    If you think your religion is worth killing for, please start with yourself.
  • Re: Highly religious people are less motivated by compassion than are non-believers
     Reply #8 - May 01, 2012, 08:14 AM

    Why are you engaging in a philosophical discussion with me?

     Cheesy
  • Re: Highly religious people are less motivated by compassion than are non-believers
     Reply #9 - May 01, 2012, 08:20 AM

    Because I'm having fun. grin12

    Anyway, do tackle those points kthnx. Grin

    If you think your religion is worth killing for, please start with yourself.
  • Re: Highly religious people are less motivated by compassion than are non-believers
     Reply #10 - May 01, 2012, 08:20 AM

    Seriously though, I think the motivation in a way is more important. Because once the external motivation is taken out of the equation, many religious people will stop caring about charity. That's why many religious people and apologists think humans would be immoral without God. And that goes to show how unethical they are deep down, that they need something or someone to constantly watch over and judge them for them to do good.
  • Re: Highly religious people are less motivated by compassion than are non-believers
     Reply #11 - May 01, 2012, 08:23 AM

    Ok, that's a fair point, but only if you are actually going to remove the religious motivation. IOW, it only applies to non-religious people. It doesn't apply to the religious, because they're still in thrall to that sense of duty. Note that I'm talking in practical terms here.

    If you think your religion is worth killing for, please start with yourself.
  • Re: Highly religious people are less motivated by compassion than are non-believers
     Reply #12 - May 01, 2012, 08:27 AM

    But religious people might stop being religious, and one would hope they find in them the real sense of compassion that was taken over by feelings of duty.
  • Re: Highly religious people are less motivated by compassion than are non-believers
     Reply #13 - May 01, 2012, 08:29 AM

    Oh sure, if they actually stop being religious. So, motivations only matter for apostates, but in practical terms aren't relevant for people who are still religious.

    If you think your religion is worth killing for, please start with yourself.
  • Re: Highly religious people are less motivated by compassion than are non-believers
     Reply #14 - May 01, 2012, 08:32 AM

    I'm a philosopher, I don't think in practical terms. finmad
  • Re: Highly religious people are less motivated by compassion than are non-believers
     Reply #15 - May 01, 2012, 08:33 AM

    I'm just wondering if it's a result of how much one self-reflects upon the worldview handed to them and reflects upon the worldview of other people. I mean deep analytic reflection, not just pointing a finger at 'those people who are not of my creed' and deeming them a collective that are all wrong for the same reasons - i.e. they are not Muslim or not Christian etc.

    The irreligious typically have reflected upon a religious worldview they once belonged to, to the extent that they have left it because they found flaws or things that did not sit right with their own personal conscience. And so, when they are good, they are good because of sound inner reasoning and the dictates of that personal conscience rather than the compulsion of what is expected from one of a creed or deference to an authority or clerical elite.

    Too fucking busy, and vice versa.
  • Re: Highly religious people are less motivated by compassion than are non-believers
     Reply #16 - May 01, 2012, 09:03 AM

    I'm a philosopher, I don't think in practical terms. finmad

    Yeah I noticed. dance

    Thing is the people who need the charity will be thinking in practical terms and if, as a truly compassionate non-religious person, you are concerned about those people then surely you must rank their welfare as being more important than your personal opinions about ethics.

    This is getting back to my original point. If you are actually concerned about doing good in the world, as opposed to just posturing about it, then you should be looking at which motivations get the results. So, if religious people are completely and utterly lacking in compassion but give truckloads of charity, then you should be hoping that everyone stays religious.

    OTOH, if non-religious people actually give more charity in practice, then you can claim compassion is more noble and all that shit. You need a comparison of the results first, though.

    If you think your religion is worth killing for, please start with yourself.
  • Re: Highly religious people are less motivated by compassion than are non-believers
     Reply #17 - May 01, 2012, 09:26 AM

    The irreligious typically have reflected upon a religious worldview they once belonged to, to the extent that they have left it because they found flaws or things that did not sit right with their own personal conscience. And so, when they are good, they are good because of sound inner reasoning and the dictates of that personal conscience rather than the compulsion of what is expected from one of a creed or deference to an authority or clerical elite.

    Bit of a non-sequitur there. They may or may not be good because of sound inner reasoning. The study makes a point of emphasising emotional responses in non-religious people, which could well indicate that sound inner reasoning is not a major factor.

    If you think your religion is worth killing for, please start with yourself.
  • Re: Highly religious people are less motivated by compassion than are non-believers
     Reply #18 - May 01, 2012, 09:40 AM

    Oh and there's also the other factor: that being motivated by compassion is still an attempt to minimise your own emotional discomfort, and is therefore a form of reward-seeking behaviour anyway.


    I like Simon Blackburn's response to these kind of assertions in his book; being good in the chapter egotism;

    Quote
    It kidnaps the word 'self-interest' for whatever the agent is concerned about. But just for that reason it loses any predictive or explanatory force. With this understanding of interest or self-interest you could never say, 'watch, the agent won't do this, but will do that because, like all agents, she acts out of self-interest.' All you can do is wait to see what the agent in fact does, and then read back and boringly announce that this is where her interest lay.

    The move is not only boring but a nuisance, since, as Butler puts it, this not the language of mankind. It would have us saying that if I stand back in order for the women and children to get in the lifeboat, then my self-interest lay in their being in the lifeboat rather than me. And this is just not he way we describe such an action. It appears to add a cynical reinterpretation of the agent, but in fact adds nothing'.

  • Re: Highly religious people are less motivated by compassion than are non-believers
     Reply #19 - May 01, 2012, 09:48 AM

    Minimising one's own emotional discomfort is not quite the same thing as what would often be called "self-interest". The latter would usually be used to describe something that results in concrete gains.

    As for losing any predictive or explanatory force, you can say exactly the same about describing such actions as "altruistic", because in that case all you are doing is waiting to see what the agent does, and then deciding they did it out of altruism.

    If it's not the language of mankind, so what? Surely most of us are aware that people frequently use terms and descriptions that aren't really accurate.

    If you think your religion is worth killing for, please start with yourself.
  • Re: Highly religious people are less motivated by compassion than are non-believers
     Reply #20 - May 01, 2012, 10:15 AM

    Bit of a non-sequitur there. They may or may not be good because of sound inner reasoning. The study makes a point of emphasising emotional responses in non-religious people, which could well indicate that sound inner reasoning is not a major factor.

    You'd have to be a vulcan or a cyborg or something to operate on sound inner reasoning alone. That's why I said conscience too.

    Too fucking busy, and vice versa.
  • Re: Highly religious people are less motivated by compassion than are non-believers
     Reply #21 - May 01, 2012, 10:18 AM

    You put sound inner reasoning first. That implies you felt it had equal or greater weight. I'm saying that is only an assumption and is not necessarily the case.

    If you think your religion is worth killing for, please start with yourself.
  • Re: Highly religious people are less motivated by compassion than are non-believers
     Reply #22 - May 01, 2012, 10:26 AM

    Of course it's an assumption, silly. I'm not channeling a higher authority or speaking on behalf of god. I'm just sharing thoughts.

    Too fucking busy, and vice versa.
  • Re: Highly religious people are less motivated by compassion than are non-believers
     Reply #23 - May 01, 2012, 10:30 AM

    Me too. Cheesy My thought is that since the study emphasised that the emotional responses of non-religious people were their primary motivation in these situations, then it's not all that likely that they reached their positions on the basis of sound inner reasoning.

    That doesn't mean that non-religious people can't employ sound inner reasoning in a range of circumstances, just that they may not have done it here. It also doesn't mean that the emotional response was necessarily wrong.

    If you think your religion is worth killing for, please start with yourself.
  • Re: Highly religious people are less motivated by compassion than are non-believers
     Reply #24 - May 01, 2012, 10:34 AM

    .........

    That doesn't mean that non-religious people can't employ sound inner reasoning in a range of circumstances, just that they may not have done it here. It also doesn't mean that the emotional response was necessarily wrong.

    Don't insult me and don't put me in to your group osmanthus.... 

    Freedom of Expression is a Fundamental Right  
    I renounced my faith to become a kafir, 
    the beloved betrayed me and turned in to  a Muslim
     
  • Re: Highly religious people are less motivated by compassion than are non-believers
     Reply #25 - May 01, 2012, 10:43 AM

    I don't think emotion and reasoning are totally seperate things in practice. I think situational emotional response can be molded or disciplined by the more advanced and realised mental processing and wisdom one aquires. Anger managment, for example, can be trained to the degree that its fruits become evermore natural and instinctive. We do it anyway growing up from impulsive child to a more stable adult. To varying degree of course.

    Too fucking busy, and vice versa.
  • Re: Highly religious people are less motivated by compassion than are non-believers
     Reply #26 - May 01, 2012, 10:49 AM

    Quote
    Minimising one's own emotional discomfort is not quite the same thing as what would often be called "self-interest". The latter would usually be used to describe something that results in concrete gains.


    They way I interpreted your post was a cynical critique of compassion. Sorry if I interpreted it wrong.

    As for losing any predictive or explanatory force, you can say exactly the same about describing such actions as "altruistic", because in that case all you are doing is waiting to see what the agent does, and then deciding they did it out of altruism.


    I don't see how you came to that conclusion.

    We can easily say that if someone acts in their self-interest they will do X or related choices in this scenario, but if they are act out of altrusim then they will to Y or related choices.

    The problem with equating everything as self-interest is - like Simon points out - it has no predictive capability. It explains without utitility, and doesn't take into account that most people use self-interest to mean being primarily concerned with one's own physical and psychological survival and well-being. I wouldn't describe someone who pushes a child out of the way of moving vehicle and dies in the process as acting in their self-interest.
  • Re: Highly religious people are less motivated by compassion than are non-believers
     Reply #27 - May 01, 2012, 01:18 PM

    No idea what you philosopher-types are talking about, but why does it matter if they're motivated by duty or by compassion? I mean, as long as they're redistributing the income, then how is it unethical to care about your own soul as well? :s It's not like they care about their own souls at the expense of poor people or something.

    Self ban for Ramadan (THAT RHYMES)

    Expect me to come back a Muslim. Cool Tongue j/k we'll see..
  • Re: Highly religious people are less motivated by compassion than are non-believers
     Reply #28 - May 01, 2012, 01:44 PM

    Seriously though, I think the motivation in a way is more important. Because once the external motivation is taken out of the equation, many religious people will stop caring about charity. That's why many religious people and apologists think humans would be immoral without God. And that goes to show how unethical they are deep down, that they need something or someone to constantly watch over and judge them for them to do good.


    I got in this conversation late, there are already so many interesting points.  I will however start here.

    Indeed, Abood  there are religious people of this thought that people are all bad and would need a constant threat  to be good. Actually  I would say this is a pathetic point of view.  In this I suppose. I'm agreeing with you. However may I point out way of thought is not a given among religious people there are those who would make the point that humans were created in God's image. Therefore their basic  tendencies are to be good and kind and merciful.  That in fact when we see the horrific cruelty carried out by some humans it's  due to poor circumstances,  bad choices,  mental illness.

    I haven't completely read the complete thread yet however these are the two things I'm thinking so far:

    1) That it would be way to general  a topic to discuss as religious and nonreligious people. Mostly because of stereotypes like the you expressed and the one Ishina expressed that most nonreligious people have at one time been religious. Needless to say to there are also may others.

    2) The diversity of thoughts and ideologies among any given group of believeers or unbelievers has the likelihood of being of importance.


    If at first you succeed...try something harder.

    Failing isn't falling down. Failing is not getting back up again.
  • Re: Highly religious people are less motivated by compassion than are non-believers
     Reply #29 - May 01, 2012, 01:47 PM

    No idea what you philosopher-types are talking about, but why does it matter if they're motivated by duty or by compassion? I mean, as long as they're redistributing the income, then how is it unethical to care about your own soul as well? :s It's not like they care about their own souls at the expense of poor people or something.


    If you are only doing good for a reward is it truly good?

    If at first you succeed...try something harder.

    Failing isn't falling down. Failing is not getting back up again.
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