Why Non-Religious People Act More Out of Empathy

Scientific research suggests that empathy works more strongly on the non-religious to motivate generous behavior. Religious people are guided more by doctrine and community. 

What's the Latest Development?


Recent sociological research suggests that non-religious people are motivated more by compassion when acting charitably than those who self-identify as religious. In one experiment, non-religious adults who were shown an emotionally powerful video were more likely to give money to strangers than those affiliated with a religion. "The compassion-inducing video had a big effect on their generosity," said UC Berkeley social psychologist Robb Willer, a co-author of the study. "But it did not significantly change the generosity of more religious participants." 

What's the Big Idea?

The results of the experiments challenge the assumption that charitable behavior is necessarily driven by feelings of compassion and empathy. While a non-religious person may need some emotional prompting to engage in generous behavior, "the more religious may ground their generosity less in emotion, and more in other factors such as doctrine, a communal identity, or reputational concerns," said Willer. And while some may assume that religious people act more charitably than their secular brethren, the studies suggest that when motivated by empathy, the non-religious among us may be quicker to act. 

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com


Compelling speakers do these 4 things every single time

The ability to speak clearly, succinctly, and powerfully is easier than you think

Former U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee rally at the Anaheim Convention Center on September 8, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Barbara Davidson/Getty Images)
Personal Growth

The ability to communicate effectively can make or break a person's assessment of your intelligence, competence, and authenticity.

Keep reading Show less

CNN files lawsuit against Trump administration

The lawsuit claims the administration violated the First Amendment when it revoked the press credentials of reporter Jim Acosta.

(Photo by Al Drago - Pool/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • CNN reporter Jim Acosta's press credentials were revoked following a heated exchange with President Donald Trump on November 8.
  • The network filed a lawsuit against the administration on Tuesday, claiming the administration has violated multiple amendments.
  • The White House may only revoke the press credentials of journalists for "compelling reasons," not for reasons involving content.
Keep reading Show less

Why millions of Americans didn’t vote during the midterms

Fall is a bad time to hold elections.

Photo credit: Joshua Lott / Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Usually, only about 40 percent of eligible voters participate in midterm elections.
  • Political philosopher John Stuart Mill believed it would be for the collective good if everybody voted.
  • Because of logistics, we may need to change the time of year we vote.
Keep reading Show less