Jorge Moll Takes a Poll and Finds Altruism Inside Us All

To be generous or to be greedy? That is the question that has plagued the minds of philosophers and general thinkers from as far back as the early Grecian plays and on. It turns out benevolence, generosity, or altruism isn’t simply a philosophical debate, yet a biological fact according to neurologist Jorge Moll and his colleagues (ABC).


Neurologist Jorge Moll and his colleague found evidence suggesting human altruism or generosity is biological, based upon a study which scanned brains of volunteers as they were asked to donate money to a charity or withhold it for themselves ( The results showed when the participants elected to donate money, a primitive part of their brains lit up, indicating pleasure. The part of the brain that lit up was the same part that indicates pleasure from food and sex which means humans feel good when displaying altruism.


The evidence from this study has prompted more research investigating human morality as it is linked to our biological make-up. While results are still in progress, studies have shown that aspects of morality are hard-wired in our brains and have been for a very long time; some suggest most likely as a result of the evolutionary process.


Jorge Moll is a neurologist who is President-Director of the D’Or Institute for Research and Education in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He graduated from medical school at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in 1994 and completed his residency there in 1997. He has a Ph.D. in Experimental Pathophysiology and was a post-doctorate research fellow at the National Institutes of Health in the Cognitive Neuroscience section. This is where he conducted his riveting study indicating that humans are hard-wired to be altruistic.


The study implied that morality is about the decisions we make as well as the decision-making process. One may make a bad moral decision because it conflicts with another moral question, yet that does not make them a bad person. How we reach our moral conclusions is more important than ever, now that the study has come to light. Jorge Moll maintains his interest in the biology of morality.