Atheists are generous towards Christians, but Christians don’t return the favour, a psychological study found.
But there might be a darker motive underlying it – as atheists may behave well simply to dispel the idea that atheists are immoral.
Researchers at Ohio University asked atheists and Christians to play a game with a partner where they shared a monetary reward.
When atheists were told their partner was Christian, they, ‘behaved impartially toward ingroup and outgroup partners,’ while Christians ‘displayed an ingroup bias’.
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The effect disappeared when the partners were not told each other’s religious affiliation, the researchers said.
Colleen Cowgill told PsyPost, ‘We often see that negative stereotypes about a group can lead members of that group to behave in compensatory ways that ostensibly seek to disconfirm that stereotype, such as when American immigrants strive to emphasise their American identity when it is threatened.
‘We found in multiple studies that our atheist participants behaved more fairly towards partners they believed were Christians than our Christians participants behaved towards partners they believed were atheists.’