Since 2010, we can explain the biological basis of altruism. Because it does exist, it is called COMT-Val and was identified by researchers at the University of bonn, Germany.
A legacy of generosity
The university asked students to memorize series of numbers in exchange for 5 euros to keep or give to humanitarian work.
Afterwards, it was demonstrated that the most generous students are those who are carriers of a particular gene, the COMT-Val. This gene is linked to a very efficient enzyme to inactivate brain dopamine, a neurotransmitter that affects brain function .
People with this gene are giving on average two times more money to charities than people without this genetic mark.
The influence of dopamine
In individuals carrying the variant COMT-Val, the corresponding enzyme is up to 4 times more active. Brain dopamine is inactivated dramatically in the brains of people concerned, yet it ‘s been years since we know that dopamine affects the behavior of men… and animals. ” Dopamine is linked to a positive emotionality. Similarly, the fact to be challenged with stimulants is determined by this important neurotransmitter.” Says Professor Reuter of the University of Bonn. (1)
And a tiny difference in our inherited DNA leads to a greater willingness to generosity.
The story does not say whether the common behaviors are the result of education or that of genetics. Hence the economy of giving or the revolt of generosity would find their roots in a small piece of DNA ? (2)
(1) Institute of Psychology / Centre ‘s Economics and Neuroscience near the University of Bonn. Those results have been published in the journal Social Cognitive & Affective Neuroscience