Ayn Rand made her ideal men as selfish and anti-altruism. The ideal men she portrayed in most of her novels, such as Howard Roark in Fountainhead, would have been extremely unhappy, as per recent studies in Department of Economics at the University of Zurich. The research carried out by Ernst Fehr and Philippe Tobler at University of Zurich says generosity is followed by a pleasant feeling what they chose to call a warm glow. The investigations are carried out as to how brain areas does communication in producing this feeling. The insights are also obtained from the results interplaying between happiness and altruism.
The experiments reveal that people showing generosity are happier afterwards compared to the people behaving selfishly. However, there is no need to be overgenerous to experience the pleasant feeling. “You don’t need to become a self-sacrificing martyr to feel happier. Just being a little more generous will suffice,” says Philippe Tobler.
The matter pertaining to generosity is dealt by three brain areas. First, is the temporoparietal junction processing the generosity and prosocial behavior. Second, is the ventral striatum having association with happiness. Last, orbitofrontal cortex, where the pros and the cons are weighed by humans during the process of decision making. These three brain areas are critical in the outcome of whether the participants of the research have commitment towards generosity or selfishness.
It has been found out that mere promise of behaving generously activates the altruistic area of the brain and intensifies the interaction between the brain area associated with happiness and the area associated with altruism. “It is remarkable that intent alone generates a neural change before the action is actually implemented,” says Tobler.
“Promising to behave generously could be used as a strategy to reinforce the desired behavior, on the one hand, and to feel happier, on the other,” says Tobler. His co-author Soyoung Park adds: “There are still some open questions, such as: Can communication between these brain regions be trained and strengthened? If so, how? And, does the effect last when it is used deliberately, that is, if a person only behaves generously in order to feel happier?”
Increasingly, in the recent times, researches are showing favorability associated with generosity. The old concept of capitalism to look only for oneself and little sympathy extended to the ones who fails is being countered even in the places considered to be the heart of capitalism. The happiness is the new parameter to judge wellbeing instead of the wealth he or she may have. A welcome change, indeed, in support of humanity, which seems to be returning.