Apparently it’s true. From Nick Kristoff’s recent op-Ed:
Brain scans by neuroscientists confirm that altruism carries its own rewards. A team including Dr. Jorge Moll of the National Institutes of Health found that when a research subject was encouraged to think of giving money to a charity, parts of the brain lit up that are normally associated with selfish pleasures like eating or sex.
A young colleague of mine set out over the weekend to raise money to support Haiti. She and a small group of friends walked the length of Manhattan (15 miles) with the goal of raising $500. So far they’ve raised $7,500 and counting.
Why has she raised more than 15 times her goal? It’s because her “ask” (“sponsor my walk in support of Haiti”) was really two gifts to her friends and network, since they:
- Are looking for a way meaningfully to support those affected in Haiti
- Appreciate and want to support her personally, for the work that she does and the person that she is.
One of the most powerful things you can do is to reframe what it means to ask someone to give, to remember that as much as they are supporting you, that you are giving them a gift. You are providing them with a solution. Better yet, you may be helping them become the person they want to be.
And, hey, it may just be as fun as sex.