Hometown Journey

How Dr. Jorge Moll Discovered Altruisms Is Intrinsic To Humans Rather Than An Advanced Moral Faculty

Dr. Jorge Moll has performed a number of interesting studies over the years. While he was working at the National Institutes of Health, for instance, he did a study using volunteers. While scanning their brains he had them think of a situation where they had to make a choice between donating some money to a nonprofit versus keeping the cash for themselves. He said he wrote a note to his research partner, Jordan Graffman, telling him that the results were pretty surprising.

The results of this study showed that when the volunteers put the needs of others ahead of their own a primitive part of their brain that responds to pleasurable things like food and sex would light up. This result suggested that altruism is not in fact an advanced moral faculty but is rather one of the most basic things about humanity. Giving to others is a hard-wired and pleasurable thing for people to do as it turns out.

This type of things seems to happen with other animals as well. They will make sacrifices to help others of their species. One experiment had two rats, one of them with food. If this rat ate their food the other one received an electric shock. Once the rat with food saw this happened each time it at it stopped eating in order to help out the other rat.

In 2007, Dr. Jorge Moll founded the D’Or Institute for Research and Education in order to further his research into how people think. His organization is located in Rio de Janeiro and does both research as well as education. He graduated in 1997 with his medical degree in neurology and in 2003 he earned his Ph.D. which was in experimental pathophysiology. He has worked in both the United States and in Brazil since graduating, including being a visiting research scholar at Stanford.

Dr. Jorge Moll has written a number of peer-reviewed research articles over the past 20 years. Among his selected publications are “The Neural Basis of Human Moral Cognition” and “The Neural Underpinnings of Moral Values”. His research focus is primarily on the choices people make, their social preferences, and how these are affected by the values and morals that people carry with them.


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