Want Help From a Stranger? Ask About Their Religious Belief

Lu Zhao


The "altruistic curve" describes the inverse relationship between people's willingness to perform altruistic acts and social distance between the helper and the helped. This study looked at the difference between people's altruism towards friends and charity using a cold pressor task. It studied how the different moral functions of moral judgment, using the Moral Foundations Questionnaire (Graham, Haidt, & Nosek, 2009), for religious people influenced the levels of altruism. This study found that purity/sanctity was highly correlated with religion and the relationship between purity/sanctity and altruism was mediated by in-group/loyalty and authority/respect. Therefore, it suggests that it is not religiosity that influences altruistic behaviour, but the moral foundations religious people score highly on.


religiosity; altruism

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