You’re out to dinner and the check comes, and you decide to go Dutch. Have you ever noticed that you tend to tip just a little more than your man? Or are your holiday gifts just a tad more altruistic than your brother’s? Turns out, that’s not just by chance.
According to a new study from the University of Zurich, published in Nature Human Behaviour, women tend to share money a bit more generously than men. So be proud, because your giving habits are a bit more unselfish!
When researchers asked 40 participants to make a decision on whether they were willing to share their money or keep it for themselves and ran brain imaging experiments, they found that the part of the brain that’s responsible for decision making lit up when women made generous and unselfish choices. For the male participants, it was the selfish decisions that made the brain more lively.
Yes, ladies, that means that our brains are most active when we’re being generous! But it doesn’t exactly mean that we’re all hardwired from the moment we’re born to be either selfish or not.
“These stereotypes might function as self-fulfilling prophecies and produce the gender differences they claim to describe,” says Alexander Soutschek, PhD, a professor of economics at the university. “The differences in the brain might be the product of the internalization of these cultural expectations.”
Instead, it could really come down to how society programs both boys and girls and how different we grow up thinking about helping others and spreading the wealth.
“If our explanation is correct, then our study shows how influential gender stereotypes in our society are and that they even lead to gender differences in the brain,” Soutschek adds.
But while it might be easy to just point the finger and say “I did more, look at me!” Soutschek encourages people to take a study like his and use it to motivate yourself to do more. No matter how you’re “pre-programmed” to be, as his study may imply.
Instead, as we approach the holiday season and find little ways to help others, spread kindness, pay it forward, and see how you can better those around you. Now that’s what we should all be aiming to do.