We’ve long been told that “it is better to give than to receive,” but how many people really believe that, and act on it? It may surprise the cynical among us to learn that actually, many people do believe in this altruism, and they do indeed act on it.
As it turns out, two neuroscientists at the National Institute of Health, Jorge Moll and Jordan Grafman, conducted two studies into the science of charitable giving. The findings of these studies showed real evidence that giving to others in an altruistic way stimulates activity in the brain’s prefrontal cortex, which brings on a rush of good feelings in the person who is giving. These studies were conducted in 2006, and they seem to prove that giving brings on a “warm glow feeling” that can last several weeks. Earlier studies had suggested this finding, but the studies by Jorge Moll and Jordan Grafman underline these findings.
These findings seem to go against the Darwinian notion that most people are compelled to act via selfish motivations of brute survival. To the contrary, the findings suggest that the “warm glow” we receive from acting generously is a biological reward for this kind of behavior. It suggests that giving altruistically isn’t a total sacrifice, as we are actually given a reward in that this behavior makes us feel good. After studying the results of the study’s findings, Moll also suggested that there is something behind the idea of “the joy of giving,” in that giving to others really does make us feel good. The biological underpinning of this idea is that unlike the “survival of the fittest” being our only driving force, we also have an innate need to sacrifice for others, as that is the only way that we can take care of helpless offspring.
There’s no doubt that the findings brought forth by Moll and Grafman are reassuring, and add a happy note to the many findings that abound about human nature and its many positive aspects.