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Reward systems more activated - that's why women act more generously than men


Women are more generous - men more selfish
Young children are often taught to hold their possessions together. Parental recommendations such as "Don't let this be taken away, it's yours" ensure that the little ones don't want to share. Boys in particular are brought up in this way. It is therefore not surprising that men are often very selfish. In contrast, women are generally more generous. Researchers have now found that certain areas in the brain are also responsible for this.

Giving makes you happy
A few months ago, an international team of researchers reported in the journal "Nature Communications" about a study that showed that giving makes us much happier. In their experiments, the scientists found that subjects who behaved generously were happier afterwards than selfish participants. The level of generosity played no role in the increase in satisfaction. “You don't have to become selflessly selfless to feel happier. Getting a little more generous is enough, ”said Philippe Tobler from the University of Zurich (UZH) in a message. The expert was also involved in a recent study in which researchers found why women are more generous than men.

Women are more generous than men
Behavioral experiments have shown that women are more generous than men when they can distribute money.

To better understand this behavior, UZH neuroeconomists examined the active brain areas.

The experiments carried out at the Institute of Economics prove for the first time that men's and women's brains process selfish and social behavior differently.

The results of the study have now been published in the journal “Nature Human Behavior”.

Certain areas of the brain become more activated
According to the researchers, it was found that striatum was activated more when women behaved pro-socially than when they made selfish decisions.

The striatum, an area in the middle of the brain, is responsible for the evaluation and reward processing and is active in every decision.

In men, selfish behavior activated the striatum more strongly.

"So the reward system for women reacts more strongly to generous decisions than that for men," student author Alexander Soutschek said in a message.

Reward system disrupted by medication
In another experiment, the subjects' reward system was disrupted by taking medication. Under these conditions, women were more selfish and men more social.

This surprised the researchers. "This finding shows that the reward system for women and men also reacts pharmacologically differently to generosity," said Soutschek.

The results have consequences for brain research: "Future studies must be designed in such a way that differences between men and women are also examined," said the scientist.

Culture-related behavioral patterns are decisive
Even if these gender-specific differences are expressed on the biological level, Soutschek warns against the conclusion that they are innate or evolutionary. According to the neuroeconomist, the reward and learning systems in the brain work closely together.

Empirical studies also show that prosocial behavior in girls is more rewarded than in boys.

“They learn to expect a reward for prosocial rather than selfish behavior. In this sense, the gender difference that we observed in our studies can best be explained by the different cultural expectations of men and women, ”said Soutschek.

This explanatory approach is supported, for example, by findings that show great cultural differences in terms of rewarding prosocial and selfish behavior. (ad)

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