Charity Contributions

RationalSchema's picture
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Charity Contributions

I don't have a link to the news article or study, but I remember reading a recent survey that showed that Theists are more likely to contribute to charity that atheists. I think the margin was not very significant, but there was a margine. Assuming that this was a methodologically sound survey, I have an simple explanation based on the principles of behaviorism. We know that a behavior is more likely to increase when given negative reinforcement then positive reinforcement. Even though positive reinforcement does increase a behavior, negative reinforcement is very powerful. In relation to the study mentioned, is it possible that the avoidance of hell, eternal damnation, and sin are the reasons for the higher rates of charitable contributions?? For atheists the donation is based on altruism or some other form of positive reinforcement. Yes, there is the argument that true altruism does not exist. What is worse, thinking you are a bad person for a few days or thinking that you will burn in hell for not giving.


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D-cubed's picture
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Charities include religious

Charities include religious organizations so it's reasonable to assume that Christians who tithe to their church consider that a donation to charity.

The study in question may be the flawed study that compared donations in the more secular San Franscico to a rural town in North Dakota.  The fact that in San Fran more tax money goes to public support programs is ignored as is the fact that there were less publically financed programs in the rural ND town.  If this is the study you are thinking of feel free to disregard it as bad science.