Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Hard-wired for Generosity

Conclusions of studies related to generosity (addressed in Svoboda’s new book entitled “What Makes a Hero? The Surprising Science of Selflessness,”) seem to indicate that the human brain may be hard-wired for generosity. According to an article in The Wall Street Journal commenting on the book, researcher Jordan Grafman found one of the most memorable results involved what happened when participants decided to make a donation even when they knew it was going to cost them money from their personal reward accounts. In those situations, the anterior prefrontal cortex lit up, a region that is believed responsible for complex judgments and decision-making. The participants were willing to give even when they knew it would cost them personally, indicating that this area of the brain may help humans decide to behave generously even when doing so runs counter to their immediate self-interest. 

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