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Scientists to Study the Source of Generosity

The USA Today reported on a new study forming at the University of Notre Dame focused on the explanation of why some people give and others don’t. The John Templeton Foundation offered the university a $5 million grant to study the concept and create a new academic field. Project director and Notre Dame sociology professor Christian Smith says he’s looking for insights into “the cogs and wheels that form people’s thinking and desires: feelings, relationships, social networks…” and as a result unravel the psychological mechanisms of generosity. Though not all the behavioral and psychological aspects of giving are fully understood, it is known that people give for various reasons, the religious tend to give more than the non-religious, generosity increases health, and people who have the most money do not necessarily give the most. The Notre Dame research initiative also plans to study the relationship between giving and faith, friendship, and family and whether or not giving has a contagious aspect.