Donate, then smoke a cigarette?

The Freakonomics blog reports on research of Univ. of Oregon economics professor William Harbaugh and psychology professor Ulrich Mayr that found that “giving to charity can directly stimulate pleasure sensors in the brain.” This parallels some of the research that has come out on the relationship between trust and pleasure sensors as well (oxytocin).

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2 responses to “Donate, then smoke a cigarette?

  1. The writer is correct that there is relationship between the dopamine-receptor-rich brain regions that Harbaugh et al find active in the charity task and oxytocin. My lab has demonstrated that when we are trusted, our brains release oxytocin. In forthcoming work, we also show that oxytocin facilitates generosity and monetary sacrifice to strangers. Why do we do this? Oxytocin release can stimulate dopamine release in the brain. So, it appears that humans derive pleasure from helping others–even strangers.

  2. Pingback: NYT: “Hostile outlook may affect breathing”: social capital responsible? « Social Capital Blog

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