Vivid Stories Change Donor Behavior

A vivid story can put us in a more altruistic mode, a study shows. UK researchers looked at the two ways people think about death – abstractly or specifically. They used a detailed story which placed the reader in a burning apartment to activate specific death thoughts. A second group of subjects answered more general [...]

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Getting High Boosts Cooperation

In our language, we tend to associate height with good. Heaven is above us, Hell is somewhere beneath us. God is described as appearing on a mountain, not in a valley. You “look up” to someone you admire. It turns out that this association of height with good is rooted in our subconscious mind, and [...]

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Baby Pics Boost Altruism

One of my all-time most popular posts is Child Labor: Put That Baby to Work!, which showed how orienting a baby picture so that the baby was looking toward the headline of an ad caused people to spend more time reading that headline. There’s another effect that baby pictures have: they can boost altruistic behavior. [...]

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The Joy of Giving vs. the Pain of Buying

We’ve covered the concept of buying pain here frequently, but haven’t seen much about how giving away money affects the brain. Two new studies shed some light on the neuroscience of charity and altruism. These studies indicate that the cerebral cortex, the area of the brain responsible for our most advanced cognitive functions, is involved [...]

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Social Perceptions and Altruism Research

Duke neuroscientist Scott Huettel, whose neuroeconomics work we described in Decision Making, Risk, and Ambiguity, is back in the news with some interesting work on the neuroscience of altruism. Duke University Medical Center researchers have discovered that activation of a particular brain region predicts whether people tend to be selfish or altruistic. “Although understanding the [...]

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