The study, carried out by the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues at Birmingham University, presented 10,000 British children aged 14 or 15 with a series of scenarios. They were then asked to choose from a set of responses.
In each case an expert panel had selected a ‘preferred option’ that displayed qualities like honesty, courage, self-discipline and a lack of self-interest.
The study found that children who took part in a musical activity were 17 per cent more likely to make a good moral choice than those who didn’t.
Children who took part in drama outside school were 14 per cent more likely to choose the more moral option.
Those teenagers who played sports actually did slightly worse than those who didn’t.
The researchers said: “Despite a widely held public belief that sport builds character, this is not always supported in the philosophical and empirical literature.”
Children who went to religious services also fared well in the study, scoring 14 per cent higher on average than those who didn’t practise religion.
Overall, 42.6 per cent of the responses were for the more moral options. Girls did better than boys, with 47 per cent of them making the more moral choices against only 37 per cent of boys.