- Fri, July 15 2011
- Filed under: Marketing essentials
Here on the blog, I’ve often discussed how giving makes us happy. I’ve cited many psychology studies. But this is a matter of biology too.
The book’s full title is The Compass of Pleasure: How Our Brains Make Fatty Foods, Orgasm, Exercise, Marijuana, Generosity, Vodka, Learning and Gambling Feel So Good. In an interview with Terry Gross of NPR’s Fresh Air, Linden explains how the pleasure center works. Certain activities trigger dopamine, making us feel good. We feel pleasure when we eat, drink and reproduce. Also when we do drugs, gamble, learn, exercise and ... yes, give to charity.
Linden explains how addiction works. It’s actually a problem caused by the brain’s inability to experience pleasure: Some people have genes that turn down the function of dopamine signaling within the pleasure circuit. Their weaker dopamine systems make them driven to overdo it. Linden told Gross, “In order to get to that same set point of pleasure that others would get to easily — maybe with two drinks at the bar and a laugh with friends — you need six drinks at the bar to get the same thing.”
So charity triggers the same part of the brain—and pleasure—as does nicotine? Could giving to charity be addictive?
Unfortunately, Linden says no. He doesn’t know of anyone who has become addicted to giving to charity, though it’s possible in theory.