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Women Are More Willing to Give Than Men

Recently the brains of women and men were compared to examine the way each brain reacts to “prosocial behavior” and the act of giving. Conducted by the University of Zurich, the brain imaging study discovered that women have a reward system that is more hardwired to be giving than men. Prosocial decisions are those that we make when we have to choose between acting selfish or selfless, to give or to withhold. For example, when it comes to giving money to others. The opportunity to give money to a mother on the street with her children is a prosocial situation. We might not expect that acting selfishly would activate our reward system, but it can. When we think we’ve done something better for ourselves, we feel better, which activates the reward system. The study found that men are more strongly activated in their reward system than women when it comes to being selfish. Women are more prone to feeling bad about their selfishness than they are rewarded by their decision. Interestingly, this dynamic is often characterized by feminine and masculine descriptions. Being cold, selfish, and calculating in a prosocial situation is often described as being disconnected from emotion, which is a common stigmatization of masculinity or the male gender identity. Conversely, being more nurturing and generous, effortlessly giving in a selfless way, is described as being emotionally in touch, softer and big-hearted. Commonly these characteristics are associated with femininity and the female gender.

Each area of the brain has a distinct function and purpose. In the study, researchers focused on the striatum which actively assesses reward during decision making. Women had a more active striatum than men in making selfless prosocial decisions than in making selfish ones. Interestingly, men had a less activate striatum for prosocial decisions and higher activity in selfish ones.

Emotional Evolution

One of the reasons behind this stark difference between the genders is evolution. Emotional evolution is empirically proven based on years of “training” associated with defined gender roles. Writes Science Daily, “Empirical studies show that girls are rewarded with praise for prosocial behavior, implying that their reward systems learn to expect a reward for helping behavior instead of selfish behavior…”

 

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