Giving Compass' Take:

• Abigail Marsh explains the variations in brain chemistry that account for some differences in the level of altruism people display. 

• How does understanding altruism help us make decisions around giving and fundraising? How can funders effectively encourage others to join them? 

• Learn how companies can nudge employees to give more

Why do some people do selfless things, helping other people even at risk to their own well-being? Psychology researcher Abigail Marsh studies the motivations of people who do extremely altruistic acts, like donating a kidney to a complete stranger. Are their brains just different?

So the real question is, could extraordinary altruism, which is the opposite of psychopathy in terms of compassion and the desire to help other people, emerge from a brain that is also the opposite of psychopathy? A sort of antipsychopathic brain, better able to recognize other people's fear, an amygdala that's more reactive to this expression and maybe larger than average as well? As my research has now shown, all three things are true.

Read the full article about altruism by Abigail Marsh at TED.