The Science of Generosity
Dana G Smith: Donating money activates the brain’s dopamine-rich reward system, especially a region called the striatum, which is the same area that lights up when you eat cake, listen to music, or have sex. In fact, several studies have shown that both giving and receiving money similarly triggers this reward circuitry in the brain. Not everyone is equally generous, though. People who had more activity in the striatum when they gave money were more likely to donate, while people who experienced a bigger burst of activity when they received money were less likely to share the wealth. People get an even stronger sense of reward when they witness the positive impact of their gift. Just think about the joy you feel when you see your loved one’s face light up when they unwrap the perfect present. Unfortunately, there are no more warm and fuzzy feelings when you stay home for the 276th day in a row while the pandemic rages on.