Study: Atheists are nicer to Christians than Christians are to Atheists

20 May 2020

(Credit: Flickr / Shane Lin, CC)

A study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology provides evidence that atheists behave more fairly towards Christians than Christians behave towards atheists.

The Independent reports:

Atheists are more generous toward Christians than Christians are toward them, a new study has claimed.

Researchers at Ohio University asked participants to share monetary rewards with partners in a version of the “dictator game”, in which one person had no power to affect the division of the bounty.

When atheists were told of their partner’s religious beliefs, they “behaved impartially toward ingroup and outgroup partners,” the study’s authors wrote in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

However, “Christians consistently demonstrated an ingroup bias”.

Lead author of the study, Colleen Cowgill, explained to PsyPost: “The rise of the so-called ‘New Atheists’ about a decade ago coupled with the ongoing ‘culture wars’ between religious and secular groups in the United States has led atheists as a population to gain an unprecedented level of visibility in this country in recent years, even as their prevalence has only incrementally increased. This has sparked a particular interest in anti-atheist prejudice research in social psychology.”

In 2017 a study in Canada found that a majority (76%) of people did not believe being religious made someone a better citizen. And more than half of those polled believed faith did more harm than good. In Britain, fewer than a quarter of people believe religion is a force for good.

Sam Harris offers a detailed explanation of why he feels morality based on the Christian God is lacking.

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10 COMMENTS

  1. Is this supposed to convince someone of something?

    Arthur Brooks cites numerous studies that show that in the United States serious believers are, in fact, far more generous with their money, time, and even blood than people who don't hold beliefs. That's really evidence. This, by contrast, appears to be merely a game some people played.

    And one cannot lump all "religions" (whatever they are) into one category. As an historian, I am confident that Christianity has, in fact, changed the world much for the better, and could give you reams of evidence to show that. I have no such confidence about, say, the Aztec religion.

    • Arthur Brooks is American, a country where the majority of citizens are Christian. It could be assumed that when donating blood or money, that the anonymous recipient will more than likely be Christian. It's often only when someone identifys themselves as an Atheist that we are treated differently. In this experiment, the Atheists were known and it was clearly shown that Christians greatly prefer their own.

    • Note that the study in the article was about one particular aspect: generosity while knowing the "target's" religious affiliation, and the conclusion that Atheists are more sharing with Christians than Christians are with Atheists.

      I know a fair number of Christians who are quite willing to "share" with their church, or with Christian causes, or perhaps even with Christian charities that provided help to poor people (though often on a "We will give you food if you listen to our sermon" basis). None of that is the object of the study in this article.

      I have also known or known of Christian business owners or managers who were quite willing to unfairly advantage other Christians, and indeed members of their own sect over other Christians, compared to non-Christians. Some were even defensive about how that was the correct thing for them to do, and that laws against it were discriminating against them because of their religion.

  2. There is no test to differentiate a real Christian from a fake one. i.e. someone who believes and understands enough to make their beliefs close enough to the doctrine to be classified objectively as someone who is, vs. someone who is pretending.

    • There is no True™ Scotsman® test. Wait, I know a test! The one True@ Christian† was the one who treated atheists fairly. But can we be sure? We need to test him again on hundreds of other determining factors. If he fails one, then he's no True© Christian™!

      • Yes that was a brilliant no true Scotsman you picked up here. I guess it is a bit like “surely a real Christian is going to be nice to atheists and so if they aren’t, they aren’t a true. Christian.”

  3. In general its the Christians and Catholics and other denominations under them that feel the need to aggressively proystelize and even on a political level. Despite this place being a mixing pot the church with these aggressive attempts to convert infringes on liberty and seperation between church and cast a huge shadow over other religions and aggressively can’t respect their boundaries non aggressive religions of say asia here in America take a non aggressive approach and dont plop on street corners to prostelize or send missionaries door to door or abroad often its not the entire religion doing these acts but zealot cult like groups in alot of ways Americas religious base is responsible or wants to be for our moral compass and alot of hard aggressive zealotry goes into swaying people very few want to shop around or look for options and with the huge overshadowing its not like many grow up knowing they have choices especially with aggressive proselytizing all around us so often the atheist are more attacked then Christians ,Christians among their own they have extremist zealots common among religions that convert. For A good demographic site https://www.pewforum.org/religious-landscape-study/. Here in America if we would establish stronger seperation between church an state and make it law things might change but the Republican party will always seek out zealots because they play prentend holy war in the Middle east which when in war there helps big oil. So be thankful the atheist population exist to balance things

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