CLAHRC WM takes a large interest in the clinician-patient relationship – the Director has a special interest in the doctor-patient relationship. Moreover, CLAHRC WM has developed a research protocol (led by Prof Julian Bion) to evaluate methods to augment compassion in acute medical care. But the doctors and clinicians are under broader influences than their immediate work environment and their post-professional education. Despite a similar education and environment some give much more of themselves than others. There are broader personal and cultural influences at work. So one may suppose that doctors who are very religious might give more than their secular peers. Well, any research on that lies in the future. But as far as human beings as a whole are concerned, the Economist provides a synopsis  of a fascinating study. They studied altruistic responses using a variant of the well-studied Dictator Game, which is a validated test of altruism. The investigators interviewed 1,170 children, one per family, across six countries. About half of the families turned out to be religious, and half of these were ‘highly observant’. So were the children of pious families more altruistic than their peers? Were they equally altruistic? Could it be that they were less altruistic? Well it turned out that children of non-religious families were more altruistic than their peers. What’s going on here? Is there a flaw in the study? If not, how can the results be explained? The CLAHRC WM Director is surprised by this result and has no answer to these questions.
— Richard Lilford, CLAHRC WM Director
- The Economist. Matthew 22:39. The Economist. 07 Nov 2015.
- Decety J, Cowell JM, Lee K, et al. The Negative Association between Religiousness and Children’s Altruism across the World. Curr Biol. 2015; 25(22): 2951-5.