Summer Allen & Jill Suttie – How Our Brains Make Us Generous

A recent series of ground-breaking neuroscience studies suggest that empathy and altruism are deeply rooted in human nature.

Each year, people in the United States give billions of dollars to charity. Every day, people volunteer their time to help complete strangers. Routinely, we hear of selfless acts where people put their own lives in danger to help someone else.

Economists and evolutionary psychologists have struggled to explain why people act in such altruistic ways. Typical explanations suggest that these behaviors involve suppressing our true, selfish nature and must instead be motivated by external factors, such as the possibility of future rewards or to avoid negative consequences, like appearing selfish to a potential love interest.

But what if helping others is an innate part of being human? What if it just makes us feel good to give?

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