‘Shocking’ New Study On Human Altruism

A new study performed by University College London suggests that most people would rather harm themselves than a stranger for profit.

We were interested in quantifying how much people care about others, relative to themselves.

The Experiment

We brought 80 pairs of volunteers in to the lab and led them to different rooms so they couldn’t see or talk to each other. They drew lots to determine which would be the “decider”, and which the “receiver”. The decider then made a series of decisions between different amounts of money and different amounts of moderately painful electric shocks. The decider always received the money, but sometimes the shocks were for the decider, and sometimes the shocks were for the receiver. By observing the deciders’ choices we were able to calculate how much money they were willing to sacrifice to prevent shocks to either themselves or to the receiver.

The Results

We found that on average, people were willing to sacrifice about twice as much money to prevent another person from being shocked, than to prevent themselves from being shocked. So for example, they would give up £8 to prevent 20 shocks to another person but would only give up £4 to prevent 20 shocks to themselves.


From spiritual point of view we find a lot of examples in everyday life when people are doing something not for themselves but to another human being. When we say ‘I am’ we have two important parts the so called ‘Ego’ and the ‘Inner Self’ (Related Ego and Inner Self). In day life our Ego drives our wishes, but if we find some harmony between our two selves the Inner Self could come in the front, and the behaviour like altruism appears. It is because our Inner Self is not really self centric. In a way we are all connected.