37 Matching Annotations
  1. Nov 2015
    1. In one version of this experiment, if we gave participants synthetic oxytocin (in the nose, that will reach the brain in an hour), they donated to 57 percent more of the featured charities and donated 56 percent more money than participants given a placebo. Those who received oxytocin also reported more emotional transportation into the world depicted in the ad. Most importantly, these people said they were less likely to engage in the dangerous behaviors shown in the ads. So, go see a movie and laugh and cry. It’s good for your brain, and just might motivate you to make positive changes in your life and in others’ lives as well.
    2. When people watch Ben’s story in the lab—and they both maintain attention to the story and release oxytocin—nearly all of these individuals donate a portion of their earnings from the experiment. They do this even though they don’t have to. This is surprising since this payment is to compensate them for an hour of their time and two needle sticks in their arms to obtain blood from which we measure chemical changes that come from their brains. 

      (Ben's story is a very sad story)

    1. But does awe continue to have its beneficial effects on social behavior even if the stimulus is threatening or isn’t associated with nature at all? Indeed, after exposure to videos of threatening natural disasters (e.g. volcanoes) or beautiful close-up slow motion footage of colored drops of water, participants also showed a greater tendency toward fairness when distributing resources between themselves and another individual.
    2. Participants consistently reported that awe produced “a reduced sense of self importance relative to something larger and more powerful that they felt connected to,” says Piff. And subsequent analysis confirmed that this feeling of the “small self” was responsible for their ethical behavior. This seems to suggest that experiencing awe prompts people to help others.
    3. people who felt awe were less likely to feel impatient and more likely to volunteer their time than study participants who felt happiness. However, awe did not make people more likely to donate money, suggesting that awe does not make people more generous in general. Instead, it was the sense that they had more time to spend that seems to have made participants more willing to lend a hand.
    4. that feeling awe, or elevation or inspired, in this case by beautifulnatural trees, makes people more pro-social and kind.
    1. Don’t overdo it. Evidence suggests writing occasionally (1-3 times per week) is more beneficial than daily journaling. That might be because we adapt to positive events and can soon become numb to them—that’s why it helps to savor surprises.

      It could be overdoing it, or it could be due to the lack of a concentrated effect, which I believe was also speculated to be a possible reason that doing ~5 kind things all in one day was more beneficial than trying to do it throughout the week.

    1. Mother Theresa talked about how grateful she was to the people she was helping, the sick and dying in the slums of Calcutta, because they enabled her to grow and deepen her spirituality. That’s a very different way of thinking about gratitude—gratitude for what we can give as opposed to what we receive. But that can be a very powerful way, I think, of cultivating a sense of gratitude.
  2. Sep 2015
    1. In both studies, reported feelings of happiness energized people to engage in private or self-interested pursuits, while feelings of elevation seemed to open people up and turn their atten­tion outwards, toward other people.
    2. Social disgust can then be understood as the emotional reaction people have to witness­ing others moving “down,” or exhibiting their lower, baser, less God-like nature. Human beings feel revolted by moral depravity, and this revulsion is akin to the revulsion they feel toward rotten food and cockroaches. In this way, dis­gust helps us form groups, reject devi­ants, and build a moral community. I thought about the social nature of dis­gust in this way for years, and about what exactly it means when someone moves “down” on the vertical dimension from good to evil.

      (moral) disgust and elevation are opposites

    3. . Psychologists have thought about morality primarily as a system of rules that prevents people from hurting each other and taking their possessions. But I believe that morality is much richer and more balanced. Most people don’t want to rape, steal, and kill. What they really want is to live in a moral community where people treat each other well, and in which they can satisfy their needs for love, productive work, and a sense of belonging to groups of which they are proud. We get a visceral sense that we do not live in such a moral world when we see people behave in petty, cruel, or selfish ways. But when we see a stranger perform a simple act of kindness for another stranger, it gives us a thrilling sense that maybe we do live in such a world.
    4. Here’s a puzzle: why do we care when a stranger does a good deed for another stranger? Most theories in the social sciences say that people’s actions and feelings are motivated by self-interest. So why are we sometimes moved to tears by the good deeds or heroic actions of others?

      I have to admit, I sometimes even feel this way when reading works of fiction.

    5. A second line of research is about "elevation," which refers to the warm, uplifting feeling we get when we witness someone else's good deed. Research by moral psychologist Jonathan Haidt, as well as by Simone Schnall, has found that elevation systematically motivates people to perform altruistic acts themselves.
    1. So what does this mean if you’re a professional fundraiser? Maybe you should just set up a pretty website and then let people decide whether to donate of their own accord. There’s just one problem with this strategy: You’re not likely to collect much money. One of the most common reasons people report donating to charity is that someone asks them to give. The trick, then, is to craft charitable appeals that encourage people to give—without making them feel forced to comply.
    2. But it’s possible to create a sense of connection even with total strangers.  A particularly strong example of that is the website DonorsChoose.org, which allows donors to purchase supplies or fund projects for a specific group of students. Creating links between a specific donor and a specific classroom enables an emotional connection to emerge from what would otherwise be a cold financial transaction. Teachers send thank-you notes to donors, and students often do so as well. “When we deliver the initial thank-you note to the donor, our first ask is not for money,” says DonorsChoose founder Charles Best. “Instead, we ask the donor to write back to the classroom, and we measure success in the volume of two-way correspondence that we see between donors and classrooms.”

      Somewhat similar to kickstarter in some cases, though certainly the added product incentive is different.

    3. Who was happiest by the end of the day? The people who used the gift card to benefit someone else and spent time with that person at Starbucks. Investing and connecting provided the most happiness.
    4. But not only do gifts make us feel close to others; feeling closer to others makes us feel better about gifts. Research shows that people derive more happiness from spending money on “strong ties” (such as significant others, but also close friends and immediate family members) than on “weak ties” (think a friend of a friend, or a step-uncle).
    5. Even when donations were mandatory, giving to this worthwhile charity provoked activation in reward areas of the brain. But activation in these reward areas (along with self-reported satisfaction) was considerably greater when people chose to donate than when their prosocial spending was obligatory.
    6. 1. Make it a choice Most of us have experienced a situation in which we felt cornered into providing help, whether by an overeager street canvasser, a colleague’s child selling overpriced chocolate bars for her basketball team, or a friend’s awkward request for a loan (an event so ubiquitous that Googling “awkward loan requests” gets about 90 million hits). Not surprisingly, feeling cornered can suck the joy out of giving.
    7. Across the 136 countries studied, donating to charity had a similar relationship to happiness as doubling household income.
    8. How did their purchases affect them? By the end of the day, individuals who spent money on others—who engaged in what we call “prosocial spending”—were measurably happier than those who spent money on themselves, even though there were no differences between the two groups at the beginning of the day. The amount of money people found in their envelopes—five dollars or 20—had no effect on their happiness. How people spent the money mattered much more than how much of it they got. This experiment suggests that spending as little as five dollars to help someone else can increase your own happiness.
    9. In ongoing work with Barbara Fredrickson, I am exploring how levels of mindfulness predict helping behavior as well as the emotions associated with helping. Mindfulness has two important sub-components: the ability to attend to the present moment and the ability to accept experiences without judging them. I found that both aspects of mindfulness predicted helping behavior.
    10. if we feel like helping is not possibleor we don’t have the capacity to do so, so in this research when we encounter a lot ofpeople whoneed assistance, we’re actually much less likely to help. And that tells us that sortof cultivatingfeelings of efficacy and in a way to feel empowered to help at the right level is reallyimportantin meeting these challenges to kindness.
    11. BushmanandAnderson and others have marshalled a lot of evidence looking at the experimental effectsof playing violent video games, and not only does it tend to increase aggression (althoughthat finding is a little bit controversial right now), but just as importantly, kind ofsaturatingyourself in these violent images and these violent games what it definitely does is itreducesyour cooperative, kind tendencies. So be wary of, or be mindful of, these violent,saturatedplaces of our culture.
    12. if theywere on time and feeling like they weren't rushed, over 60% of the time they attendedto thatperson in need; if they were just a minute or two late, that likelihood of helping droppedto10 percent - a six fold decrease in kindness just by feeling a little bit busy.

      busyness as a barrier to kindness

    1. Her research does show that if you do the same kind thingfor thesame person over and over again it sort of loses its gravity. So try being kind to differentpeoplein different ways five times on a given day, and once again write it down.Describe what you did, how you did it, and whether there was any impact andresult of what you did and this will make the experience richer and more interesting.
    1. Giving has also been linked to the release of oxytocin, a hormone (also released during sex and breast feeding) that induces feelings of warmth, euphoria, and connection to others. In laboratory studies, Paul Zak, the director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies at Claremont Graduate University, has found that a dose of oxytocin will cause people to give more generously and to feel more empathy towards others,
    2. Giving evokes gratitude. Whether you’re on the giving or receiving end of a gift, that gift can elicit feelings of gratitude—it can be a way of expressing gratitude or instilling gratitude in the recipient. And research has found that gratitude is integral to happiness, health, and social bonds.
    3. What’s more, when we give to others, we don’t only make them feel closer to us; we also feel closer to them. “Being kind and generous leads you to perceive others more positively and more charitably,” writes Lyubomirsky in her book The How of Happiness, and this “fosters a heightened sense of interdependence and cooperation in your social community.”
    4. In one study, participants rated the photographs of classmates in their high school yearbooks for physical attractiveness, familiarity, liking, and respect. The researchers then had strangers (of the same sex and roughly same age) who had never met the people behind the photographs rate the same photographs for physical attractiveness. In general, the more the people in the yearbook were familiar, liked, and respected, the more physically attractive they were perceived to be. The effect of non-physical traits on perceptions of physical attractiveness was significant for both sexes.
    5. when we givespontaneously, we actually give significantly more, upwards of 65% of our resources comparedto when we deliberate and calculate and think about how much we give, where our giving drops
    6. The happier participants felt about their past generosity, the more likely they were in the present to choose to spend on someone else instead of themselves. Not all participants who remembered their past kindness felt happy. But the ones who did were overwhelmingly more likely to double down on altruism.
    7. The groups that practiced kindness and engaged in novel acts both experienced a significant—and roughly equal—boost in happiness; the third group didn’t get any happier. The findings suggest that good deeds do in fact make people feel good—even when performed over as little as 10 days—and there may be particular benefits to varying our acts of kindness, as novelty seems linked to happiness as well. But kindness may have a longer, even more profound effect on our happiness
    8. people who gave money away rose in happiness over the course of the day, people who spentinon themselves showed a slight decrease in happiness, and really impressively, more recentworkis showing by Dunn and others that this finding replicates in dozens and dozens of countries,thatgiving gives you a bigger happiness benefit than spending on the self.
    9. giving kids rewards for their prosocial behavior may actually undermine kindness. One possible explanation for these somewhat counterintuitive findings is that, in order for children to grow up seeing themselves as kind and giving, it is important for them to feel that they do good because they want to, not because others expect them to.
    10. we weresuccessful in making people happier, but only in that condition where the students did alltheir acts of kindness in one single day. So, again, like tomorrow you go out and dofive(5) acts of kindness—and I think it is because it was more powerful, you know, just sortof, five (5) acts that tended to be pretty small things, not all of them were big things.It is just very salient that you go out and it makes you feel really good, spreading the actsof kindness across the week might have just made them not as distinguishable from theother things we tend to do.

      I was actually really surprised by this; I expected it to be the opposite finding, but, I suppose if one spends a day doing "endurance training in kindness", one is more likely to be kind at other times in the week.

  3. Oct 2013
    1. Things that cause friendship are: doing kindnesses; doing them unasked; and not proclaiming the fact when they are done, which shows that they were done for our own sake and not for some other reason.