Understanding Altruism

Acting with an unselfish regard for others doesn't always come naturally, even though many psychologists believe we're hard-wired for empathy since cooperative behavior allowed our ancestors to survive under harsh conditions. But most of us realize that when we make the effort to give without expectations of reciprocity, we feel fulfilled and energized.

Recent Posts on Altruism

Abundance, Inequality, Needs, and Privilege

I am immensely curious to understand the obstacles to having gift economy experiences be the norm rather than the exception. In this post, I am writing about one piece of this huge puzzle that fell into place for me: why the idea of “deserving” might have come into existence, and how it’s related to the difficulties in establishing gifting and collaboration.

The Big Mistakes of Religion and Secularism

People have a choice about religion and spirituality: to conform more or less rigidly to accepted teaching, or to think and act independently. Both bring problems, but the issues resolve spontaneously as we grow more mature and find a true set of values to follow

Let's Honor Leonard Nimoy and End Smoking in Rehab

By Jason Powers M.D. on March 04, 2015 in Beyond Abstinence
Leonard Nimoy, an icon to millions of Trekkies as Mr. Spock, the half-Vulcan, half-human first officer of the Enterprise, fell victim to the most human of all diseases: addiction.

Could Narcissism Be Getting a Bad Rap After All?

While living in a Facebook, celebrity driven, reality show, and selfie environment, how can we not become more narcissistic? Ultimately, we have to learn to balance and manage our narcissistic tendencies in a way that considers the needs and rights of others. Easier said than done but we must do so to live in a better world for all of us.

Does Happiness Lie Within?

By Steve Taylor Ph.D. on March 03, 2015 in Out of the Darkness
Consciousness has a natural quality of well-being which we tap into when our minds are quiet and empty

A Response to Sam Harris's Writings on Moral Truth Pt 2 of 3

By John A. Johnson Ph.D. on March 03, 2015 in Cui Bono
In August of 2013, Sam Harris issued a challenge to refute the central thesis of his book, The Moral Landscape. This thesis is that "questions of morality and values must have right and wrong answers that fall within the purview of science." This is part 2 of a 3-part post explaining why I agree with everything in his book except the central thesis.

Get Out of Yourself

We are fortunate when something happens that extricates us from an excessive focus on ourselves. The hardest burden in life is self-centeredness.

How to Get a Date by First Asking a Simple Question

Have you ever wanted to ask out someone you know, or get a date with an attractive stranger? In either case, you can increase your chances of getting a "yes" by first asking a simple question, or making a small request. Find out what the research has to say here...

Where’s The Market For Organs (And Sex)?

By Jesse Marczyk on February 28, 2015 in Pop Psych
Sometimes you aren't allowed to sell things that you are free to give away; a curious bit of moral psychology

The Bystander Effect

By Rosemary K.M. Sword on February 27, 2015 in The Time Cure
We’d all like to think that when we see something bad happening that we’d step forward to render aid. But in reality most of us don’t. And although some people won’t take the initiative to help, they will take the time to photograph or videotape the event and post it on the internet. Why?

Does Science Really Say That Hot Guys Are Jerks?

There have been many recent media stories—with titles like "Science Says: Hot Guys Are A-Holes"—about a new study on attractiveness and behavior. I was lead author on this study, and I'll clarify here what our study really showed.

Grow a Key Inner Strength

By Rick Hanson Ph.D. on February 23, 2015 in Your Wise Brain
Use these four questions help grow inner strengths. 1) What's the issue? 2) What psychological resource - inner strength - if it were more present in your mind, would really help with this issue? 3) How could you have experiences of this inner strength? 4) How could you help this experience of the inner strength really sink in to you?

Socially-Strategic Welfare

By Jesse Marczyk on February 19, 2015 in Pop Psych
Cross-national differences in beliefs about welfare appear to be generated by the same underlying psychology. If you want to get people to agree on welfare, you need to get to them agree about the recipients.

What’s Holding You Back From Becoming a Hero?

By Scott T Allison Ph.D. on February 18, 2015 in Why We Need Heroes
Heroes find a way to better themselves, and they aren’t afraid to seek help.

10 Interesting Facts About Romantic Dating

By Todd B Kashdan Ph.D. on February 16, 2015 in Curious?
Get information from a large, never to be published dataset on people's attitudes and behavior in romantic relationships

Personality Traits of BDSM Practitioners: Another Look

A recent study provides some new insights into the personality traits of dominant and submissive BDSM practitioners. Dominant practitioners seem to be more calm and have a greater desire for control, while submissive ones may be more emotional and introverted. Some questions remain about how these findings compare to previous studies into this fascinating world.

Phrasing The Question: Does Altruism Even Exist?

By Jesse Marczyk on February 13, 2015 in Pop Psych
Are humans really altruistic, or is this question actually several questions confusing phrased as one?

Fifty Shades of Grey Review

By Sari Cooper L.C.S.W. on February 13, 2015 in Sex Esteem
The long anticipated movie has finally hit the screens! Here are some thoughts coming from a Certified Sex Therapist.

Joni Mitchell on New York Magazine: Is The Photo Disturbing?

I hope to see my idols looking and sounding as if they are enjoying themselves as they reach the season of harvest (not so very far away from any of us). That's what I long for but very rarely see.

6 Things We Must Accept to Be Happy

By Lisa Firestone Ph.D. on February 12, 2015 in Compassion Matters
Many of us are going about happiness all wrong. In order to discover our own true form of happiness, we have to shed baggage from our past, free ourselves from outside influences and identify who we alone really are.

3 Surprising Facts About Money and Happiness

By Sherry Hamby Ph.D. on February 12, 2015 in The Web of Violence
Money is a major part of everyone's life but learning to deal with financial challenges may actually turn out to be good for us.

The Psychological Antidote to ISIS – Part I

By Ran Zilca on February 12, 2015 in Confessions of a Techie
Can we humans look at ourselves in the mirror today and confidently like what we see? If aliens are watching us from faraway galaxies, how would they describe us today? Are we the predators at the top of the food chain, or perhaps a virus infecting the planet, as Agent Smith in the film The Matrix suggested?

3 Relationship Myths, Debunked (and 1 Proven True)

A lot of love advice out there is nothing more than myths and urban legends. If you are an experienced myth buster, go solve some puzzles on Mensa's math site. If not, continue reading.

What Goes on in Your Mind When You Feel Emotions?

By Shahram Heshmat Ph.D. on February 07, 2015 in Science of Choice
Understanding emotion is a complicated business.

Our Hidden Oligarchs

By Ken Eisold Ph.D. on February 05, 2015 in Hidden Motives
Awareness of our still growing income inequality has spread widely, and new accounts are accumulating weekly in the media. But this growing consensus is now starting to obscure something even more ominous,

5 Ways to Express Your Love on Valentine’s Day

By Lisa Firestone Ph.D. on February 04, 2015 in Compassion Matters
Valentine’s Day should be what each of us makes of it and nothing more. So whether you’re a hopeless romantic or just-not-a-candy-heart-kinda-person, here are a handful of ways we all can make the most out of this year’s Feb. 14… or any day for that matter.

To Love Yourself Love Your Character

The right sort of self-love is a balance of concern for self and others.

An Expert Guide to Lies and Liars

By Adrian Furnham Ph.D. on February 04, 2015 in A Sideways View
We are all both good liars and hopefully good lie-detectors. Much of social life involves behaviours that are designed to cover up facts and create a particular impression. It makes sense to try and distinguish the types of lie that most people tell on a regular basis

Ordinary Cruelty

By Bruce Poulsen Ph.D. on February 02, 2015 in Reality Play
What makes good people do bad things? Can ordinary people be induced into behaving immorally? A movie about the famous Stanford Prison Experiment recently premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. Here are some reflections about the movie and our susceptibility to both altruism and cruelty.

Coca-Cola & Microsoft Spread #Cyberhero Meme

By Dana Klisanin Ph.D. on February 02, 2015 in Digital Altruism
Coca-cola wins best Super Bowl commercial by reminding us that everything in life has an opposite, even cyberbullies.