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Are Humans Altruistic by Nature?

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EDITOR’S NOTE: BQO’s M. Anthony Mills sits down with Abigail Marsh, an Associate Professor of Psychology at Georgetown University, to discuss her research on the science of altruism. 

Professor Marsh is the director of the Laboratory on Social and Affective Neuroscience at Georgetown’s Psychology Department and author of the forthcoming book The Fear Factor. She argues there is a neurological explanation for why some people behave more altruistically than others. In particular, her research focuses on those, such as kidney donors, who engage in acts of “extraordinary altruism”— putting themselves in harm’s way to help strangers without any expectation of reward.