According to neuroscientist Jorge Moll, charitable deeds and donations are more selfish than people might think. Although it seems that people are altruistic due to moral beliefs (and this is partly true), this isn’t the main underlying factor on why people are altruistic. Altruism can be viewed in a way that shows that people are actually sacrificing themselves for others. In charitable deeds, people are sacrificing their time, their money, material things, and sometimes even friends. It leads one to wonder why would a human, who at his basic core is selfish by nature, suddenly evolve to be altruistic? The main underlying factor is that they get subconscious pleasure from putting others first and it is this reward of pleasure that fuels their charitable behaviors. According to Moll, donating to charity is more of a scientific process than a moral one.
Moll, along with fellow scientists, conducted an experiment that used functional magnetic resonance imaging to observe people’s brain functions as the accepted or rejected certain societal issues or charities. The conditions of the experiment were costly donations, non-costly donations, costly opposition, non-costly opposition, and pure monetary reward. What Moll found was astonishing. Jorge moll and his team analyzed a lot of data which lead to many findings, but overall the main finding was that donating to societal causes activated two rewards systems in the brain: the VTA–striatum mesolimbic network, and the subgenual area. These two areas are part of the human rewards system. This system is activated, for example, when people eat good food, have sex, or earn money. The study shows that humans feel rewarded when they are altruistic and this is what fuels them. This is a part of a previously suggested theory called “warm glow”. It seems that humans haven’t evolved at all. They are still as selfish as always, which is basic human instinct.
Jorge Moll is a brilliant neuroscientist. He received his master’s degree in Neuroscience from Federal University of Rio de Janiero and his Ph.D. in Experimental Pathophysiology from São Paulo University. He founded D’Or Institute of Research and Education in his home country, Brazil. Moll continues to contribute vital research and theories to the neuroscience field through his world-class, award winning research facility.