May 02, 2017 08:23 AM EDT
In general, people love those who sacrifice their own well-being to help the ones in greater need. However, scientists are just beginning to understand why humans feel guilty about taking advantage of other people. The University College London (UCL) has the answer.
The new research suggests that the brain's natural wiring may provide a concrete explanation. Published in the journal "Nature Neuroscience", the experts used brain scans and electric shocks to conclude that the human brain discourages acts of hurting other people for personal interests. University of Oxford neuroscientist Molly Crockett, Ph.D., told Inverse that the study enlightens the "psychological basis for social norms of morality".
For the record, Crockett is the lead author of the research conducted in UCL. Basically, her team found out that it is human nature for everybody to prefer to profit from harming themselves rather than others. Moreover, the brain reportedly responds less to ill-gotten wealth.
Per Science Daily, Crockett's team examined volunteer's brains as they decide whether to inflict pain on themselves or on strangers in exchange for money. It is actually a follow-up study on an earlier project that showed people dislike hurting others more than harming themselves. This exact same behavior was witnessed in the new study.
It involved 28 pairs of participants who were anonymously paired. They were also randomly assigned to be either the "decision maker" or the "decision receiver". The deciders choose between different amounts of money for different numbers of electric shocks. The catch is that they will pick whether they like to receive the punishment themselves or let the receiver suffer for them to get the prize.
The UCL experiment showed that the brain responds less to money gained from using other people. The majority of the respondents would rather take the pain for the reward, but only in those who were raised to behave morally. Nevertheless, the correlation was significant.
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