Charity according to dictionary.com has three meanings. The meaning I want to focus on is the second meaning of the word charity which states “ The voluntary giving of help, typically in the form of money, to those in need.” This is charity according to Jorge Moll. But honestly, it runs a lot deeper than that. In order to completely define charity, we would have to look into a 2006 experiment regarding charity and its implications for the human mind. We would have to start off with a little bit of background of Jorge Molls, Jorge Molls’s experiment on charity, and the implications of what this experiment means in relation to the world and Neuroscience.
So first, a little bit of background about Jorge Molls. Jorge was born and raised in Brazil. Jorge then graduated in medical school from the Federal University of Rio De Janeiro, Brazil in 1994. He completed neurology residency at the same University in 1997. He holds a PhD and became an experimental path physiologist of medicine in the University of Sao Paulo. He then got his post doctorate degree In Cognitive Neuroscience from Bethesda USA from 2004 to 2007. Jorge Molls is now the head of the cognitive and behavioral Neuroscience unit and president director of the D’or Institute for Research and Education in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. With these kind of credentials, we can conclude that Jorge Molls is indeed an expert in Neurology.
In October of 2006, Jorge Molls did an experiment on charity and its affects on the human mind. It started out with 58 participants, and as the experiment went on, only 19 of those participants were left. All participants were all right handed and were native English speakers. An endowment of $128 was given to each person in the experiment, and they used fMRI to assess what the brain does when it gives to charity and when it denies giving to charity. All of the participants knew ahead of time that additional money was given for organization reimbursement, and they understood that their decisions would affect their endowment and monetary benefits allocated to organizations. Each participant was given a list of organizations and the mission statements of each organization, and for each organization they were given 6 seconds to look and skim through the mission statements. Each person was free to make their own choices.
In conclusion, Jorge Moll found that most of the participants spent 40% of their endowment on very costly decisions. Jorge found that there was either a high level of compassion for an organization or a high level of anger towards an organization. The results were surprising for Jorge, especially the fact that they made more costly decisions then non-costly decisions and a lot of it had to do with emotions toward particular organizations. Jorge also found that the level of “good feelings” that participants had towards donating to organizations is the same “good feeling” you have when you receive a monetary award. What the results mean is that, giving to an organization that you feel passionate about, gives a lot of good benefits towards mental health. In a matter of fact, the more money people gave, the healthier they were. Isn’t it amazing what the human brain can achieve?