Religious students failed an exam for not helping a beggar.
This story is based upon a real study of religious students that was conducted for a social psychology class at Princeton University during 1970. In order to study the influence that variables can have on compassion, seminary students were asked to take part in a study on religious education and vocations. In the first exam, simple personality questionnaires about types of religiosity were administered. In a second exam, the test subject began by doing experimental procedures in one building, and then were told to report to another building to complete the task.
While on the way there, the subjects had to pass a ‘victim’ (a beggar) planted along the way. The dependent variable was whether or not the subject would help the victim. The independent variables were the degrees to which the subject was told to hurry to reach the other building, and the subject they were to speak about once they got there. Some of the subjects were told to talk on which jobs seminary students might be most effective at, while the others were told to speak about the New Testament’s parable of the Good Samaritan.
Not even one of the test subjects offered to help the ‘victim’, in any way. This study makes one wonder, if religious students, who are learning to teach about the compassionate life of Jesus, cannot even be counted on to come to the aid of someone in need, then who will? The students were each later asked to attend a meeting with the professor, who took pleasure in informing them all that they had failed the exam, and why.