Are humans more prone to generosity or selfishness? For decades, scientists have beaten around the bush when attempting to answer that question. In lo

Researchers gave 200 people $10,000 each to study generosity

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2023-09-19 17:30:05

Are humans more prone to generosity or selfishness? For decades, scientists have beaten around the bush when attempting to answer that question. In low-stakes economic games, they’ve given participants small amounts of money and tasked them with allocating those funds between themselves and a partner. Researchers have conducted hundreds of these studies, and when aggregated, they show that humans give away about 28% of their money on average. Again, however, the stakes are low in these experiments — subjects are often gifted around $10 or less to distribute.

Would humans show the same amount of generosity if gifted a far greater sum of money? With the help of a pair of wealthy donors, researchers affiliated with the University of British Columbia, Yale University, and Technology, Entertainment, Design (TED) ran an experiment to find out.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the team broadcasted via TED’s social media channels an offer to apply for a vague “mystery” experiment. People located across the globe signed up. Two hundred from Brazil, Indonesia, Kenya, Australia, Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom were eventually selected, and they were no doubt elated when they learned what the experiment entailed.

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