Monday, April 20, 2009

Religious folks give more blood

N = 2,688

I was invited to witness the baptism and chrismation of an Antiochian Orthodox family this weekend and had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with members of their parish. Like I've noticed with so many Mormons over the years, many religious people come across as very nice and kindhearted. I'm pretty good at sniffing out insincerity, but my cynical side always wonders if this tendency is simply a cultural affectation. It also struck me that both genders seem to be more feminine. (This is an important reason why I find religious women more attractive). For their sexes, both men and women appear above average in gentleness.

One way to test the hearts of people is to see how often they do things for others for little to no reward. Donating blood is a good measure because there is no compensation for it (unless you count cookies and juice), and it generally isn't even helping someone you know who might reciprocate in the future. It's helping the abstract other. Do religious people do this more? They do. The table above displays the GSS results. Frequent churchgoers are almost twice as likely to donate blood.

In some ways I might consider it a bad thing, but religion, in America anyway, seems to encourage universal benevolence.

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