The results of a new experiment have discovered that children raised in religious households were found to be meaner and less generous than their atheist peers.

According to The Daily Beast, about 1,000 children from Muslim, Christian and non-religious households from around the world were chosen to participate in the study:

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To test whether children raised on religion would behave more morally than non-religious children, they were asked to play what’s called a "dictator game." In this game, children were shown 30 stickers and told that they could pick their favorite 10 to keep for themselves. The children were then each told that the experimenter didn’t have enough time to play this game with everyone, so some of the children at their school wouldn’t get any stickers. What the results showed was that children from Christian and Muslim households were both significantly less generous than children from non-religious households when it came to sharing their stickers with anonymous peers.


In addition, The Daily Beast reports that children from religious households were far more likely to dole out harsher punishments for those who had done something wrong. As The Daily Beast notes this could be because religious children “ are more concerned with justice” and that non-religious children are "more tolerant of others’ behavior, and more willing to forgive.”

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So what’s the reasoning behind this?

The Daily Beast introduces the idea of “moral licensing” which essentially boils down to the idea that those who identify with a moral or ethical ideal have a higher level of self confidence in their actions and therefore “makes them less worried about the consequences of immoral behavior.”

“For instance, research has shown that men who report being very opposed to sexism later go on to hire men for what would traditionally be considered a man’s job,” The Daily Beast explains. “They do this because they feel that since they are not sexist—at least, in their own minds—a decision to choose a male over a female can’t be immoral.”

What’s the real moral of this story? It would seem, at least according to this study, that religion and morality are not necessarily one in the same.

Matt Lee is a Web producer for Metro New York. He writes about almost everything and anything. Talk to him (or yell at him) on Twitter so he doesn’t feel lonely@mattlee2669.

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