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Researchers Set Out to Discover How Religion Impacts Morality — and What They Found Might Surprise You


"To our knowledge, it's the first study that directly assesses how morality plays out in people's everyday lived experience."

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A recently released study found that being a religious or faithful person doesn't necessarily make you more well-behaved, though there are important differences between how the religious and nonreligious emotionally process moral and immoral acts.

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The results of the study, titled, "Morality in Everyday Life, which were published in the journal Science this month, found that there was no significant disparity between believers and nonbelievers when it came to the quality or number of moral acts, according to the Daily Mail.

While the results might lead some to dismiss the purported benefits of personal faith, there is one caveat worth noting: religious people were found to have more pride and gratitude when they committed moral acts.

They were also embarrassed and disgusted more than their nonbelieving counterparts when they committed immoral acts, the outlet reported.

"To our knowledge, it's the first study that directly assesses how morality plays out in people's everyday lived experience," University of Illinois psychologist Linda Skitka, who coauthored the study, said in a statement.

To obtain the results, researchers used smartphone analysis to reach out to 1,252 adults ages 18 to 68. Over a three-day period, these individuals � from America and Canada � were given five signals that asked them to answer questions about moral and immoral acts they participated in or observed in the past hour.

"The science of morality has drawn heavily on well-controlled but artificial laboratory settings," reads the study's abstract. "To study everyday morality, we repeatedly assessed moral or immoral acts and experiences in a large ... sample using ecological momentary assessment."

The study's central take away is that, despite having theological differences, believers and nonbelievers were found to have much more in common when it comes to morality's role in everyday life than some might otherwise assume.

"By studying how people themselves describe their moral and immoral experiences, instead of examining reactions to artificial examples in a lab, we have gained a much richer and more nuanced understanding of what makes up the moral fabric of everyday experience," Skitka said.

The researcher coauthored the study with Daniel Wisneski, a University of Illinois at Chicago doctoral graduate in psychology, Wilhelm Hofmann of the University of Cologne, and Mark Brandt of Tilburg University.

(H/T: Daily Mail)


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