According to researchers at the University of Zurich, generosity causes a reaction in the brain of women while men are more sensitive to selfishness.
Men and women react differently when confronted with certain social behaviors. The brain of women reacts more to generosity, while men’s brain shows more activity in the face of selfish behavior, researchers at the University of Zurich have shown.
Behavioral experiments had already established that women, when they had to distribute a certain amount of money, were behaving more generously than men. To better understand these results, Zurich researchers in neuroeconomics have studied areas of the brain that are active during reward behaviors, they said Monday in their statement. The striatum, an area of the brain located beneath the cortex, is thus activated during each decision-making. Zurich scientists have been able to establish differentiated behavior according to gender.
The striatum of women reacts more than men’s in the face of a generous decision, said Alexander Soutschek, head of the study. While this area of the brain, in men, shows more activity in a selfish decision. The discovery of the Zurich neuroeconomists, published Monday in the scientific journal “Nature Human Behavior”, has serious consequences for this branch of research. Each experience will have to take account of this differentiation in the future.
Difference induced by education
Another question raised by the Zurich study concerns the origin of this differentiation: is it innate or acquired? According to neuroeconomists, the reward system and the learning system are closely connected. Empirical studies have shown that “social” behavior is more encouraged among girls. “They learn that they will be rewarded if they behave more socially than selfishly,” explains Alexander Soutschek. The latter explains the differentiation observed in his study by different cultural expectations for men and women.
Neuroeconomics is a branch of research at the crossroads between economics and cognitive neuroscience. It seeks to study the influence of cognitive factors in decision-making, especially in economic terms.