Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Religion and donating blood: Some readers evidently didn't like my analysis on religion and soft-heartedness. In their view, the measure I used is problematic, and behavior, not self-characterization, is the important question. Well, the Inductivist is here to please, so I have calculated the percent who have donated blood in the past year at least once by religion (I limited analyses to religions with at least 30 survey respondents):


Percent who donated blood in the past year

Christian 19.7
Catholic 17.5
None 16.2
Protestant 15.6
Inter-denominational 12.9
Jewish 11.9

These numbers do not support the view that religion generates altruistic behavior since those without a religion are ranked third in a field of six. Again, I am surprised that Jews are at the bottom.

Of course, it's conventional wisdom in sociology (if it can be said to possess any wisdom) that affiliation is not particularly potent--it's commitment to a religion that matters. So does blood donation vary by attendance?


Percent who donated blood in the past year by frequency of church attendance

More than weekly 19.7
Weekly 19.0
Nearly every week 17.4
Two or three times/month 19.8
Once a month 20.1
Several times a year 16.7
Once a year 14.4
Less than once a year 15.9
Never 11.1

Those who attend, whatever the frequency, are not that far apart, but the irreligious are noticeably stingier with their blood.

11 comments:

Minarchist said...

HA!

see?

"interdenominationals" IE leftoid hypocrites were #1 at self reported "compassion" but ranked near bottom on an actual test of altruism

i knew it would be so, its all about loudly proclaiming ones own morality without having to PRACTICE it

do it for charitable donations also $10 says same result

Jewish Atheist said...

I'm not sure that shows greater (personal) altruism so much as involvement with movements that push blood drives and stuff. Maybe on their own the religious churchgoer and the atheist would be equally likely to give blood, but since the church (to its credit) has blood-drives, the churchgoer naturally ends up giving more.

RobertHume said...

I used to go to Protestant church and giving blood was never mentioned. I always gave blood in response to secular solicitations over the radio, red cross ads, etc. I think that is typical from what I've read and experienced.

Again, Christians are enjoined to be "Good Samaritans" etc. So all individuals hear the "give blood" pitch, but Christians respond.

Or perhaps it is just that Christians imagine that the blood is likely to go to fellow religionists, whereas Jews can expect that it will go to Christians. I think an obviously similar analysis could explain why blacks don't give much blood. The data on blacks is "well known". Does the GSS back that up?

Too many explanations.

I suppose that Muslims might be a test. Compare rate of giving in predominant Muslim countries with giving in Christian countries. ... But no data in GSS for that study, unfortunately.

Anonymous said...

Ron, yes, I am back, the "anonymous" that you were referring to in the beginning of your post. You seem to keep presenting results without the additional support that a scientist would like to see. Perhaps this would make for a boring blog post and I can understand your desire to avoid that. But how about some confidence intervals/margins of error and actual sample sizes for each of your data points. For example, with a sample size of 30 and a 95% CI, the margin of error is 18 points! That means that in the group that has a sample size of 30, the value you give can be off by 18 points in either direction. A sample size of 100 would have a 10 point margin of error; a sample of 1000 people gets you a respectable 3% margin of error. Now, I realize that not all of the groups have 30, but without knowing the sample sizes or confidence intervals, your groups might be completely overlapping! Please explain your rationale AND provide at least sample size data.

Sammy said...

Let's play the game of correlations on the GSS data... Let's not even worry about statistical significance... a look at the data should demonstrate why statistical significance is irrelevant to my claim that people who claim to be soft-hearted are not more likely to do nice things.

Correlation between "DESCRIBES ONESELF AS A SOFT-HEARTED PERSON" and:

CARRIED A STRANGERS BELONGINGS: r = -.07
DONATED BLOOD DURING THE PAST 12 MONTHS:
r = +.01
HAS GIVEN MONEY TO A CHARITY:
r = -.09
HAS GIVEN FOOD OR MONEY TO A HOMELESS PERSON:
r = -.14
DONE VOLUNTEER WORK FOR A CHARITY:
r = -.07
OFFERED SEAT TO A STRANGER DURING PAST 12 MONTHS:
r = -.03

So, people who describe themselves as being softhearted appear no more likely to do some of the behaviors one might consider to be "random acts of kindness" or... the fruits of being softhearted. Statistical significance testing is unnecessary because all but one correlation are in the WRONG direction. However,

Ron Guhname said...

Sammy: One correction. A high number for soft-hearted means you're very much that way; a high score for each of the behaviors means you never do them. So a positive sign shows a feelings-behavior contradiction. All of your correlations, save one, are negative.

Ron Guhname said...

Anon: I'll try to include overall sample sizes more often, and maybe more stats where I see it as necessary, but I'm not enthusiastic about turning my blog into "The Inductivist Quarterly" just yet. People are always free to question or to conduct their own analysis of the data.

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