Jorge Moll finds evidence that giving feels as good as being selfish

Jorge Moll is a neurologist who has worked to make many different discoveries in the world of neuroscience. While he was working as a research fellow at the National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke from 2004 to 2007 (http://www.diasdacruz.org.br/tag/dr-jorge-moll-neto/). In 2006 he conducted an study with Jordan Graffman that helped to explain why humans give and what it is that compels them to continue helping others. They searched for the reasons or effect in the brain that caused people feel good when helping another person. This experiment consisted of nineteen individuals that participated in a study where they were given a choice of three options when asked about controversial topics such as abortion, the death penalty, nuclear power, war, and euthanasia. The participant started with a certain amount of money, known as their pot or pay out. Each participant was then given the option to donate money, oppose donation or take a pay out for each topic. In some cases they were required to take money from the pot, being their money, in order to donate to the cause. The average amount donated was fifty-one dollars meaning that the average amount taken home with each participant was seventy-seven dollars. The participant’s brain was scanned while making these decisions. Moll helped to discover that the act of giving a donation contained as much pleasure in the brain as the act of collecting the pay out. Moll could hardly contain his excitement when he made the initial discovery and is famed to have written an email to his colleague saying “You gotta see this!” He then burst into the room before his colleague had a chance to finish examining the discovery. They were both astounded to find giving had the same pleasurable effect as receiving the money payout in the brain. Moll’s discovery was evidence that giving would provide happiness and make people feel good.

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