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The Science of Altruism: Research and Findings

Inspire Altruism is guided by the principles of effective altruism, which prioritizes using evidence and research to guide decision-making. In that spirit, we have compiled a wealth of evidence from published research articles and books that support our mission and approach.

1. Beyond Intelligence and Passion: The Importance of Altruistic Education

"Saving the World the Right Way: Altruistic Education"

by Supakorn Laohasongkram

This research paper supports the mission of Inspire Altruism by suggesting that traditional education, which focuses on increasing intelligence and passion without offering guidance on how to use those qualities for the good of mankind, is inadequate. The paper argues that education should also include the development of character and a sense of responsibility, duty, and obligation to others. The paper also promotes the idea of "altruistic human flourishing" and "Altruistic Education," which focus on cultivating students who are not only capable but also compassionate, and teaching the "why" of education as much as the "what." This aligns with the mission of Inspire Altruism, which aims to inspire the youth to find a purposeful, altruistic, and impactful career path.

2. The Proxied Giving Effect: How Mentors Increase Long-Term Philanthropy

"Giving-by-proxy triggers subsequent charitable behavior"

by Samantha Kassirer, Jillian J. Jordan, Maryam Kouchaki

This research paper examines how giving by proxy affects subsequent charitable behavior. The study found that when people give money to a charity through a representative (a "proxy"), such as a friend or family member, they subsequently engage in more charitable behavior than those who give money directly to the charity. The authors suggest that this "proxy-induced" behavior may be due to a psychological mechanism known as "moral licensing," in which people feel a sense of moral righteousness after making a charitable donation, leading them to subsequently engage in more selfish or less prosocial behavior. The paper also found that people who gave money to a charity through a proxy felt more connected to the charity and more motivated to give again in the future. Overall, this research supports Inspire Altruism by providing evidence that giving money through a proxy, such as a mentor or trusted intermediary, can increase subsequent charitable behavior in the giver. This supports the idea behind Inspire Altruism's Proxied Giving Mentorship Program, where students are matched with mentors who help guide their charitable giving decisions and ultimately aim to increase their long-term engagement in philanthropy and effective altruism.

3. Beyond Traditional Morality: Cultivating Altruism in Education

"Education and The Good Life: Autonomy, Altruism, and the National Curriculum. Advances in Contemporary Educational Thought, Vol. 7"
by John White

The text supports the idea of inspiring altruism by suggesting that focusing on the cultivation of altruistic dispositions, rather than traditional morality, can provide a more practical and agreed-upon approach to moral education. It argues that by focusing on developing dispositions of concern for others' well-being and providing clear guidelines for prioritizing values, individuals can be taught to respond flexibly to conflicts of value and make ethical decisions that prioritize the well-being of others, rather than their own convenience. The text also emphasizes the importance of teaching children to avoid extended egoism by discouraging nepotism and other forms of favoritism towards one's close associates.

4. Cultivating Altruism: The Neuroscience of Compassion Training

"Compassion Training Alters Altruism and Neural Responses to Suffering"
by Helen Y. Weng, Andrew S. Fox, Alexander J. Shackman, Diane E. Stodola, Jessical Z. K. Caldwell, Matthew C. Olson, Gregory M. Rogers, Richard J. Davidson

This study supports Inspire Altruism's mission by providing evidence that compassion can be systematically trained through mental exercises, and that this training leads to an increase in altruistic behaviour towards others. The study also shows that training-induced changes in neural responses to suffering are associated with increased altruism, suggesting that compassion training can lead to functional neuroplasticity in the circuitry underlying compassion and altruism. This supports the idea that individuals have the capacity to cultivate compassion and become more altruistic, which aligns with Inspire Altruism's goal of promoting compassion and altruism in individuals.

5. Millennials in Search of Meaning: A Shift in Values

"Exploring the Possibility of Peak Individualism, Humanity's Existential Crisis, and an Emerging Age of Purpose"

by Gabriel B. Grant

This study supports Inspire Altruism's mission by providing evidence of a growing interest in "purpose in life" within the millennial generation, and a shift towards collectivistic values. The study suggests that this trend may be driven by changes in physical realities or ecologies, and may inspire a search for purpose. This aligns with Inspire Altruism's goal of promoting a sense of purpose and collectivism within individuals and society.

6. Understanding the Progression from Self-Interest to Altruism

"From Interest to Obligation: The Gradual Development of Human Altruism"
by Audun Dahl and Markus Paulus

The research paper provides evidence for the gradual emergence of human altruism and the role of moral education in the development of prosocial behavior. It suggests that the development of altruistic behavior is a gradual process that begins with self-interest and progresses to a sense of moral obligation. The paper also highlights the importance of moral education and the role of socialization in promoting prosocial behavior.

7. The Need for Inspire Altruism: Addressing Declining Concern for Others

"Generational Differences in Young Adults' Life Goals, Concern for Others, and Civic Orientation, 1966-2009"
by Jean M. Twenge, Elise C. Freeman, W. Keith Campbell

This research supports the need for Inspire Altruism by highlighting a trend of declining concern for others and civic orientation among younger generations, as well as an increasing emphasis on extrinsic values such as money and image. This suggests that there is a need for programs like Inspire Altruism, which focuses on promoting intrinsic values such as self-acceptance, community, and empathy, as well as encouraging charitable giving and civic engagement among young people. The program could help to address the trend of reduced community feeling and a shift towards more self-centered goals among the young generation.

8. Promoting Purpose in Higher Education: The Benefits for Mental Health and Altruism

"Attitudes of College Students Towards Purpose in Life and Self-Esteem"
by Shannon Hodges, Stephen Denig, Allison Crowe

The paper suggests that having a sense of purpose in life is important for overall well-being and can serve as a protective factor against depression, anxiety and other negative mental health outcomes. The study specifically found that graduate students reported higher scores on purpose in life than undergraduates, and that both groups rated purpose in life as important in their lives. This suggests that promoting a sense of purpose and meaning in life could be beneficial for college students, and that college and university counselors should address this topic in their work with students. In this way, the study supports the idea that intervening in college students' lives to help them find a sense of purpose and meaning could be an effective way to inspire altruism, as students with a sense of purpose may be more likely to engage in prosocial and community-minded behaviors.

9. The Role of Adolescence in the Development of Altruistic Behavior

"The development of egalitarianism, altruism, spite and parochialism in childhood and adolescence"
by Ernst Fehr, Daniela Glätzle-Rützler, Matthias Sutter

This paper shows that altruistic behavior becomes more prevalent in adolescence. The study found that the frequency of spiteful behavior decreases with age and that the incidence of altruistic behavior among the oldest adolescents in the study is similar to that observed in adults, indicating that significant changes in the prevalence of altruism occur in adolescence. Additionally, the study concludes that the development of altruistic motives in adolescence is an important prerequisite for smooth interactions later on as adults in the workplace, which aligns with the goal of Inspire Altruism to prepare students for leadership roles in their future careers.

10. Rational Altruism: A Path to Global Citizenship

"Altruism, Non-relational Care, and Global Citizenship Education"
by Liz Jackson

The study presents arguments for a form of "limited, rational altruism" as a virtue of global citizenship. The study argues that emotions such as compassion and care may play fleeting or even harmful roles in shaping altruistic moral action, and that emotional learning can lead students to confusion, anger, guilt, or fear. It suggests that education for global citizenship should focus on developing skills and cognitive capacities, rather than emotions, in order to promote positive social change. This aligns with Inspire Altruism's mission of promoting education and behavior that promote altruistic actions and positive social change.

11. The Impact of Modeling Altruism on Children's Behavior

"Model Affect and Children's Imitative Altruism"
by James H. Bryan

This study investigates the impact of immediate and delayed vicarious reinforcements on children's imitative self-sacrificing behavior. It suggests that if a child observes a model demonstrating positive affect immediately following an altruistic act, they will be more likely to imitate both the function of the model's behavior (e.g., helping others) and the particular form by which this function is manifested. The study also examines the role of moral exhortations in eliciting altruistic behavior and finds that these verbal representations may serve to enable the child to better learn the contingencies of the model's motor acts and affective changes. Overall, the study supports the idea that compassion can be cultivated through training and that observing positive reinforcement for altruistic behavior can increase a child's likelihood of imitating that behavior.

12. Leading by Example: The Role of Modeling in Encouraging Altruistic Behavior in Children

"The Role of Example and Moral Exhortation in the Training of Altruism"
by Joan E. Grusec, Peter Saas-Kortsaak and Zita M. Simutis

This study supports the idea that example and moral exhortation can be effective in promoting altruistic behavior in children. The study found that example prompted more donations than exhortation, although the latter was somewhat effective. The study also found that children exposed to example and moral exhortation were more likely to engage in other forms of altruistic behavior, such as helping the experimenter pick up dropped objects and collecting craft materials for sick children. The study suggests that providing children with both examples of good behavior and moral exhortations can be an effective way to inspire altruism in children.

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