Faith Without Works: Jesus People, Resistance to Temptation, and Altruism



Students in a large introductory psychology class were given an opportunity to cheat on a class examination. Some time later, they were asked to volunteer to participate in a project designed to help mentally retarded children. On the basis of attitudinal and behavioral self-report measures, the subjects were divided into four groups according to religious belief: Jesus people, religious, nonreligious, and atheists. The four groups did not differ in frequency or magnitude of cheating, nor did they differ in committing themselves to performing the altruistic act. Females showed a significantly higher frequency of altruistic behavior than did males. Resistance to temptation and altruism were essentially unrelated to one another, and level of religiousness did not appreciably affect the magnitude of the relationship.