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TRBQ Podcast #13 — Is There Really Altruism?

If you ever doubt that animals have the capacity to share, look no further than chimpanzees and capuchin monkeys.

Frans de Waal studies primates, and he teaches psychology at Emory University. He says says looking at the way other primates share sheds light on the way humans act.


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TRBQ Podcast #4 — Sharing with strangers

Why do people share? In this episode we hear from Yochai Benkler about his research into people who write Wikipedia articles, and we meet Sam Harnett who moonlights giving people rides — and recording their stories.


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Capuchin monkey: Keep your stupid cucumber (Video)

Here’s a short clip of Frans de Waal’s famous fairness experiment with capuchin monkeys. Yes, it turns out, capuchins have a sense of fairness. They’re happy to work for slices of cucumber — until their neighbor gets a grape for doing the same task.

You can see the result.

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Do volunteers give better blood?

The Memorial Blood Center sets up a table in the University of Minnesota Duluth’s busy bus hub. Every few minutes a student comes by to set up an appointment, and then heads out to the blood drive bus.

In one day, dozens of students volunteer to get stuck in the arm with a needle for nothing but a T-shirt.

The scene isn’t unusual to a modern-day American audience. Not so long ago, though, it would have seemed extraordinary. It was only a few decades ago that the U.S. stopped paying blood donors and started using volunteers.


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TRBQ Podcast #3 — The joy is in the giving

Money can make you happy. Especially if you give it to someone else. A growing body of research shows that giving  money to other people is more likely to make you happy than keeping the money. In this episode, Michael Norton from the Harvard Business School tells Dean about his fascinating research into sharing and generosity.


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Empathy: You have to be carefully taught

Whether you’re altruistic or not may depend on what kind of family you grew up in.

TRBQ host Dean Olsher recently talked with Tom Smith at the University of Chicago about his study of altruism and empathy in America.

Smith directs the National Opinion Research Center at the university. Every year, the center does a national survey of social trends.

Recently they looked at altruism, and Smith says they got some results he wasn’t expecting. (more…)