Altruism pays off, research shows

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Giving to charity may not be simply altruistic – it can also enhance your reputation and reap rewards in the future. Scientists have discovered that those who are more generous get benefits as their reputation is enhanced and others are more likely to want to work with them.

The research, published in the journal Biology Letters, involved 40 strangers playing a game with the aim of finishing with the most amount of cash. They were given a set amount of money and split into groups. In the first rounds the members could put any amount of money into a central pot. This was then doubled, and split between players. In the second half every player would find out what the other players had donated and then choose who to partner with for the second phase, where they would play the same game in groups of two.

Researchers found players who gave away the most money in the early rounds finished with more money at the end, as they found the best partners.

The author, Karolina Sylwester, a PhD student at the Centre for Behaviour and Evolution at Newcastle University's Institute of Neuroscience, said: "This research shows that investing in a good reputation pays off through access to co-operative partners and the profits which come from mutual co-operation."