Is research in some countries more altruistically motivated than in others?

When it comes to big countries, more individualistic nations are more altruistic 

January 26, 2017
Graph of whether a country's research is motivated by altruism or economic growth

View and/or download a high-resolution version

This graph shows whether a country’s research is motivated by altruism or economic growth – and finds that for big countries at least, more individualistic nations are more altruistic.

The Research Focus of Nations: Economic vs. Altruistic Motivations”, published in Plos One, divided research fields into economically or altruistically motivated ones by calculating how many papers involved industry.

Areas such as civics (including disciplines like history, governance and philosophy), medicine and disease were found to be the most altruistically motivated fields, whereas engineering, applied physics and computing, which had more industry involvement, were judged to be more economically driven.

China and Russia have some of the most economically motivated research profiles, while the US was found to be much more altruistic (the majority of its papers are in medicine and civics).

The researchers then tried to find if these motivations correlated with other national characteristics, such as measures of individualism, wealth, religion or education levels.

For the 40 most prolific research nations, individualism had the best correlation with an altruistic outlook (although this relationship broke down for smaller countries).

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

Monster behind man at desk

Despite all that’s been done to improve doctoral study, horror stories keep coming. Here three students relate PhD nightmares while two academics advise on how to ensure a successful supervision

celebrate, cheer, tef results

Emilie Murphy calls on those who challenged the teaching excellence framework methodology in the past to stop sharing their university ratings with pride

Sir Christopher Snowden, former Universities UK president, attacks ratings in wake of Southampton’s bronze award

Reflection of man in cracked mirror

To defend the values of reason from political attack we need to be more discriminating about the claims made in its name, says John Hendry

But the highest value UK spin-off companies mainly come from research-intensive universities, latest figures show