Dr. Jorge Moll and Conditional Altruism

Posted in Medical Field on Mar 03, 2018

When we think about people in society that are great, in the sense that they’ve given so much back to humanity as a token of appreciation or even an general sense of obligation to do so. Conversely we often time may think of people who don’t give back as cold, or selfish. Sunning their general disinterest or indifference to altruistic impulses. What if those feelings we have aren’t always universal? We are all humans, but our physiological and neurological reflexes differ vastly. Dr. Jorge Moll, a world renowned neurologist, conducted an experiment with volunteers and the results challenged even his preconceived notions about altruism.

When the volunteers placed others before themselves, the anterior prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain originally thought to be primitive and activated only when food and sex were introduced, lit up. The research shows that indeed morality has biological roots, that one could be predisposed to make decisions based on individual neurological makeup. What’s also interesting is in 1989, an economist had a theory called “warm glow giving.” It was basically stating that the good feeling one got from giving was a big part of the giving. Altruistic sacrifices wasn’t the sole reason for giving in simple terms. He tagged this phenomenon as “impure altruism”.

Dr. Moll corroborated this finding in his joint study with Dr. Jordan Grafman in 2006:

” this strongly supports the existence of ‘warm glow’ at a biological level. It helps convince people that doing good can make them feel good; altruism therefore doesn’t need to be only sacrifice.”

Dr. Jorge Moll has the admiration of many throughout academia and the medical realm. In 2015, Dr. Moll was awarded the Visiting Scholar Award, Stanford Neuroscience Institute, Stanford University. Although these are compelling bullet points, it’s still very much debated by many with ongoing studies and hypotheses being tested.

Visit his Facebook page for more updates.


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