I was flipping through the University of Oregon’s Spring issue of Cascade magazine today and I found an article that I want to share with our readers.
The article by Marc Dadigan is called “Dalai Lama to Ask Bill Harbaugh: Where is the Love (In Economics).
The article looks at one U of O economists theory on why do people choose to donate.
Specifically, U of O economist Bill Harbaugh’s recent research focuses on the question “Can pleasure be derived from being charitable”?
So why is the Dalai Lama interested in the research of an economist?
Well, the Dalai Lama sees religion and science as complimentary forces and he happens to be hosting a round table discussion in Zurich called “Compassion in economics” where Bill harbaugh will be a featured speaker.
“The topic of the conference is the role of altruism and compassion in economic systems, a conscious break for the usual emphasis on competition in economics.”
Harbaughs research is a mix of neuroscience and economics.
Harbaugh’s research has found that
“…the notion of charitable giving activates pleasure centers in the brain – but at different levels for different people.”
The levels of love & pleasure can actually be measured and could possibly help us predict whether or not people will actually donate to a cause or not.
The research shows that in some subjects there is no sign of pleasure being received upon giving, but that these people still donate anyway.
Harbaugh says that:
“In some ways you might say that (giving without receiving) is altruism at it truest form…”
That particular notion is especially interesting to the Dalai Lama:
“What mattes more – your actions or your intent.”
Why did you give your latest donation? Was out of obligation? were you supporting a cause that is important to you? Were you giving because you feel it’s the right thing to do? Let’s hear from our readers about why people give.