A case of gene-erosity

How much we give to charity could be influenced by our genes, according to new research from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

An online experiment involving 203 volunteers by researchers from the university's psychology department showed that those volunteers more inclined to generosity had similarities in their genetic make-up.

The volunteers were allocated a sum of money and had to decide whether to keep it, or give all or part of it away to another anonymous player. Those who had certain variants of a particular gene gave away, on average, nearly 50 percent more money than those not displaying that variant.

Dr Ariel Knafo, who conducted the research, said: ''The experiment provided the first evidence, to my knowledge, for a relationship between DNA variability and real human altruism.''

Megan Pacey, director of policy and campaigns at the Institute of Fundraising said: "Research such as this is intriguing. Fundraisers keep a weather eye open to all research that helps to inform their professional judgement.

"However, their professional experience is that a range of factors induce people to give and this research is not conclusive at this stage".




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