Does consistent church attendance make people more helpful and generous? It’s a hard question to answer because researchers don’t have an opportunity to follow around people of varying religiosity and score their behavior. We each likely have our own answer to this question based on our own religiosity and our interactions with religious and non-religious people, but our impressions are likely skewed.
One way to test whether religious service attendance correlates with prosocial behavior is by observing tipping behavior. In an interesting experiment, researchers surveyed diners as they left various restaurants in Richmond, Virginia. The surveys (which were privately taken by the payor) asked about the amount tipped and whether the payor regularly attended religious services. Using regression analysis to adjust for other variables, such as household income, education, and whether the payor had ever worked as a server, the researchers determined whether there was a relationship between tipping and religiosity.
Their conclusion? There’s no relationship: religious diners tipped 3% less than non-religious diners, which was not statistically significant.