When social institutions (e.g. Religion and the State) give reminders to help others, it can promote prosociality. Shariff’s (2016) meta-analysis of prosociality indicates that religiosity promotes self-reported helping, but finds no consistent effect in lab-based behavioral measures of prosociality. Furthermore, existing behavioral measures are often not ecologically-valid representations of prosociality, leaving the unique effect of religion on helping unclear. This study explores the role of religion on helping, which is known to promote helping between group members, and the state, which promotes helping across groups, in a relatively valid behavioral helping scenario. Participants are reminded to help those in need either by a religious agent, a secular agent, by no agent, or not reminded and then are offered the opportunity to help a peer in need by donating their time. Results indicate that although self-reported intentions to help those in need are high, and associated with known covariates (e.g. empathy, gratitude, religiosity, etc.); low amounts of behavioral helping are seen. Results are discussed in the context of dispositional predictors of prosocial behavior, prosocial intentions and behaviors, and modifications based on group membership.
Lees, Katherine E., "Prosociality: Promoting Helpful Behaviors Not Just Helpful Intentions" (2016). Honors College. 402.