Jorge Moll Explores the Psychology of Giving

Jorge Moll and Jordan Grafman had been studying the brains of volunteers. The volunteers were asked to simple think about a situation in which they either donating a large amount of money to a charity or keeping the funds. Jorge made an exciting discovery, and couldn’t wait to share it with Grafman.


The results from the study showed that when the volunteers put the well-being of others before their own, this mental act of generosity prompted a part of the brain that is normally activated in response to sex or food. This proved that altruism was not a characteristic that was reserved for those who are particularly moral ( Rather, giving to others was based on a primitive function of the brain.


These findings also proved that being unselfish can feel good, and this proves Saint Francis of Assisi’s word: “for it is in giving that we receive.” This also opened up the discussion concerning moral behavior and cause many to explore what it really means to be good.


Grafman and Jorge Moll, along with other neuroscientists are now using experiments and psychological trials to determine whether humans have a moral compass. The results show that many of the studies published are showing that many of the aspects of being moral are mentally hard-wired and is probably the revolution of evolution that started in other species. It’s not exactly possible to say whether animals like giraffes and lions make decisions based on morality the way that humans do because no one has been inside the brain of a giraffe. However, it has been proven that some animals can sacrifice what they want for the good of other creatures. One experiment revealed that if one rat is given food while the rat next to it gets an electric shock, the rat that received the food will eventually stop eating.


Emerging research also shows that morality can be biological and that the reward center of the brain that “lights up” when doing good for others has been around for a while. The more researchers are learning, the more it seems that the basis of being moral is being empathetic. Recognizing and even feeling the experiences of others is crucial to the advancement of healthy social behavior.

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