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

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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).

david.matthews@tesglobal.com

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