Although many parents believe that if they raise their children with a strong sense of faith, their kids will be more altruistic, new research shows that this isn't the case.
According to a study from the University of Chicago, children who grow up in nonreligious households are actually more generous and giving than children from observant families.
The results "contradict the common-sense and popular assumption that children from religious households are more altruistic and kind toward others," according to the published study.
Neuroscientist Jean Decety and his team of researchers recruited children between the ages of 5 and 12 years old from seven cities across the world. The 1,170 kids identified themselves as Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, agnostic, other, or not religious.
For the experiment, the children were presented with a collection of 30 stickers and told they could keep their favorite 10 for a game. They were then told that not every kid would get stickers because there wouldn't be enough time for every student in school to play.
The researchers evaluated the kids' levels of altruism by whether the subjects offered to share their stickers with their classmates. Not only did the kids from secular homes share more stickers than their religious counterparts, but the researchers found that the more religious the family, the less altruistic the child. This was true for all religions in the study, and the nonreligious children had generosity scores up to 28 percent higher.
The findings question whether religion is vital for moral development, and researchers concluded that separating religion from morality "will not reduce human kindness — in fact, it will do just the opposite."