Reconciliation could encourage giving, research finds

Encouraging Catholics to receive the sacrament of Reconciliation could have a payoff in the collection plate, according to British research.

The study involving a group of devout Catholics found that when they felt absolved of sins and a sense of guilt they were more likely to give generously.

Researchers from Royal Holloway College, London, and the University of Oxford assigned participants two memory tasks.

In the first they were asked to privately recall a sin they had committed in the past. In the second, they were asked to recall going to confession for this sin, or imagining doing so if they had not confessed it in reality.

Each participant was also given an opportunity to donate to a local Catholic church by placing some money in an envelope. For some participants, this donation was collected before they recalled being absolved of the sin, whereas for others the donation was collected afterward.

The results showed that recalling — or imagining — absolution strongly increased church donations, especially among the more devout participants.

The lead researcher, psychologist Dr Ryan McKay, said earlier research had shown that people are “more likely to behave pro-socially, such as helping, sharing, donating, co-operating and volunteering, when they feel guilty.

“This raises the question of whether religious rituals of absolution, in which people are absolved of their sins and released from guilt, would actually make people less pro-social.

“However, the results of our study suggest the opposite — that ‘releasing’ people from their sin has a positive pro-social effect. This indicates that the Catholic ritual of confession is an effective means of promoting commitment to the Church.”


The Telegraph


Image: The Guardian

Additional reading

News category: World.

Tags: , , , , ,