Altruism emerges when thoughts focus on a Higher Power
Many members of 12-Step Fellowships such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Al-anon, ACOA, Narcotics Anonymous and Alateen, will agree with this research.
Thoughts related to a Higher Power cultivate cooperative behaviour and generosity, according to University of British Columbia psychology researchers.
In a study to be published in Psychological Science journal, researchers investigated how thinking about a Higher Power and notions of a Higher Power influenced positive social behaviour, specifically cooperation with others and generosity to strangers.
Azim Shariff and Ara Norenzayan found that priming people with ’Higher Power concepts’ — by activating subconscious thoughts through word games — promoted selflessness. In addition, the researchers found that this effect was consistent in behaviour whether people declared themselves believers or not. The researchers also found that secular notions of civic responsibility promote cooperation and generosity.
“This is a twist on an age old question — does a belief in a Higher Power influence moral behaviour?” says Shariff. “We asked, does the concept of a Higher Power influence cooperative behaviour? Previous attempts to answer this question have been driven by speculation and anecdote.”
Said Shariff. “These are compelling findings that have substantial impact on the study of social behaviour because they draw a causal relationship between spirituality and acting morally — a topic of some debate. They by no means indicate that spirituality is necessary for moral behaviour, but it can make a substantial contribution.”