Monday, January 29, 2007

It's something more primitive

Why do people do good? A new scientific study suggests that it's not just for an emotional reward: people may actually act selflessly because they're acutely tuned into the needs and actions of others. For decades, psychologists and neuroscientists have puzzled over the tendency of humans to engage in altruistic acts -- defined as acts "that intentionally benefit another organism, incur no direct personal benefit, and sometimes bear a personal cost." The bottom line, says Duke University professor Scott Huettel, is that altruism may rely on a basic understanding that others have motivations and actions that may be similar to our own. "It's not exactly empathy," he says, but something more primitive.
This blog you are reading is titled "Why I do GlobalGiving." It is a series of ruminations on this question - some direct, and some more tangential. In case you haven't noticed, I don't fully understand all my motivations. There are a thousand other things I could be doing in life -- many more remunerative, and many less stressful.

Thanks to my friends at Charity Focus for pointing me to this study. I find it illuminating and helpful as I ruminate some more....