You had to read pretty far down today’s New York Times article on a study about moral behavior to find one of the most interesting findings.
Here, let me save you the time:
The survey found no significant differences in moral behavior or judgment between religious people and nonreligious ones.
The study asked participants to respond to text messages asking them about moral judgments and decisions they made or saw someone make each day — assisting someone looking for help or ignoring them, for example.
Researchers found that someone seeing an act of kindness is more likely to commit one of their own. But they also found that a person doing a good deed, for example, is more likely later to commit a rude one, as if they felt justified in doing so because it was offset by an earlier action.
But they did find a difference between the religious and the non-religious, LiveScience says, suggesting the extension of courtesy, for example, is self-centered.
Religious people reported experiencing more intense self-conscious emotions — such as guilt, embarrassment, and disgust — after committing an immoral act than did nonreligious people. Religious people also reported experiencing a greater sense of pride and gratefulness after committing moral deeds than their nonreligious counterparts.
This notion that there’s a selfish motivation for kindness and moral underpinnings is, a read of the Times comments section reveals, debatable.
“I can’t be the only one that permits merging drivers to enter the road ahead of me, stops for pedestrians to cross the road when driving, holds doors for people entering a building behind me, offers the money necessary to make up a shortfall at the cash register, stands back to allow people to exit the train/bus before I enter, etc.
It just can’t be . . . .