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Front Psychol. 2014 Dec 17;5:1451. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01451. eCollection 2014.

Tryptophan promotes charitable donating.

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Cognitive Psychology Unit, Institute for Psychological Research and Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition, Leiden University Leiden, Netherlands.


The link between serotonin (5-HT) and one of the most important elements of prosocial behavior, charity, has remained largely uninvestigated. In the present study, we tested whether charitable donating can be promoted by administering the food supplement L-Tryptophan (TRP), the biochemical precursor of 5-HT. Participants were compared with respect to the amount of money they donated when given the opportunity to make a charitable donation. As expected, compared to a neutral placebo, TRP appears to increase the participants' willingness to donate money to a charity. This result supports the idea that the food we eat may act as a cognitive enhancer modulating the way we think and perceive the world and others.


charity; serotonin; tryptophan

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