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 questions about death, while a control group was exposed to non-death-related material. They then gave subjects a second item to read, an article about blood donations which came in two versions, suggesting that blood donations were either at record highs or record lows. Finally, all subjects were given the opportunity to express an interest in donating blood. […]

By |September 6th, 2011|

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 our physical location affects our behavior. […]

By |April 7th, 2011|

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. An interesting experiment in Edinburgh showed the power of a baby picture compared to other images: […]

By |April 27th, 2010|

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 […]

By |May 29th, 2007|

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 […]

By |January 23rd, 2007|