The first thing to note about giving away money is that it feels really good. For instance, several brain scanning experiments demonstrate that donating to a worthy cause leads to activation in the dopamine reward pathway. It’s the same part of the brain that’s turned on when we have sex, or eat a slice of chocolate cake. In fact, there is typically more “reward-related” activity when we donate money than we receive an equivalent amount. Giving is literally better than getting, at least from the perspective of the brain. But this generosity comes with a catch. Yes, we have altruistic instincts. Still, these instincts come with some real blind spots.
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