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

The Neuroscience of Savoring Positive Emotions

Neuroscientists have linked sustained activation of a brain region called the ventral striatum to savoring positive emotions. Ventral striatal activation is in the locus of your control. Researchers believe that regularly practicing loving-kindness meditation and compassion activates this brain region and increases the ability to savor positive emotions.

Get Real About Teamwork

When a team mate is uncooperative, you may be tempted to ignore it to maintain the harmony. But if you do this all the time, fake cooperation gets confused with real cooperation. You shouldn't have to choose between team work and reality. Here's a way to have both.

How Giving Something for Nothing Can Benefit your Health

Altruism can benefit your health - try it and see

5 Ways to Use Setbacks to Grow Better, Not Bitter

We may not be able to control all the things that happen to us, but we can choose how we respond to hard times.

Stories of Seclusion: 'Will I Die Without Having Mattered?"

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on July 10, 2015 in How To Do Life
In solitude, a woman reconciles her life.

Effective Altruism

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on July 09, 2015 in How To Do Life
Your charity dollars and time probably could do more good.

Paying it Forward

Imagine someone does something nice for you. You then see someone else that needs help. Are you more likely to help that person? What if you were mistreated by someone, are you more likely to then mistreat a person unrelated to the situation?

The Morality Of Guilt

By Jesse Marczyk on June 14, 2015 in Pop Psych
Some thoughts on how the form of moral emotions can inform us as to ultimate moral functioning

Why Good People Break Bad

The bad can take us by surprise. Our man or woman can act out for no apparent reason. We may find our very own hands in the cookie jar. Why? Why do good people go bad? Find an honest, science-supported answer and learn how to prevent... "breaking bad."

How to Increase Your Lifespan By 2 Years

Living longer doesn't necessarily mean you have to make major changes to your diet or your exercise routine.

Hugging the Horse's Head

By John Sean Doyle on June 09, 2015 in Luminous Things
In an open air market in Turin, Nietzsche witnessed a merchant flogging a horse. He ran to the animal and yelled for the beating to stop. He threw himself between beast and whip, and hugged the equine’s thick neck. This frail and sickly philosopher who gave us the Übermensch and slave morality, then collapsed, weeping. I understand why Nietzsche hugged the horse's head.

Some Reasons Why People Kill Themselves

By Fredric Neuman M.D. on June 07, 2015 in Fighting Fear
The reasons that someone may commit suicide are more varied and complicated than usually thought. Depression is the most common cause, but not the only cause.

The Kindness of Strangers

There's no need to make excuses for human kindness. We should celebrate it is one of the most fundamental aspects of human nature.

The Joy Of Giving

By Allison Carmen on June 05, 2015 in The Gift of Maybe
When we can release our expectations and help another person with the pure intention of just giving, it can be one of the most thrilling aspects of our lives, even when we get nothing in return. As Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”

Un-Churched Chimps

Research on monkeys and chimpanzees suggests that moral sensibilities evolved long before religious sensibilities.

Finding Truth and Authenticity in an Age of Irony

The artist—and we all are artists, good, bad, or ugly—expands the ordinary into the extraordinary or condenses the extraordinary into the common. He, she, enchants the cosmos.

How Marketers Manipulate You Into Becoming Their Friend

New research reveals how shockingly easy it is to manipulate consumers to like and forgive marketers that deceive them.

The Power of Awe: A Sense of Wonder Promotes Loving-Kindness

A new study led by researchers at the University of California reports that having a sense of wonder and being in awe of something greater than oneself promotes loving-kindness and prosocial behavior.

The One Graduation Message We All Need to Hear

The field of evolutionary psychology has enormous implications for how to guide the next generation of leaders. In particular, the field helps illuminate the nature of giving—a value that we expect all of our graduates to internalize.

Tom Brady Broke the Rules, But Don't We All?

By Mark Travers Ph.D. on May 14, 2015 in The Sports Mind
Before we tie Tom Brady to the whipping post, perhaps we should think about the times we bent, finessed, or massaged the rules for our own benefit.

A Workover: "What Should I Do?"

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on May 14, 2015 in How To Do Life
Simple questions to help you choose a career or make any big decision.

Multilingual Environments Enrich Our Understanding of Others

Even if you're not bilingual, exposure to multiple languages improves the ability to put yourself in someone else's shoes and see the world from another perspective.

Is Life Just a Sequence of Random Events?

By Po Chi Wu Ph.D. on May 12, 2015 in Jacob's Staff
How do we understand the role of luck in our lives? If value and meaning can only be achieved by a sequence of events, does that sequence reflect a pre-determined pattern? Whose pattern? Where does this line of thinking take us in terms of planning? How are artists and entrepreneurs different from the rest of us? How do we find meaning in life?

Memorial Day: A Gift That Keeps On Giving

We all need general convictions that give meaning to our life and enable us to find a place for ourselves in the larger universe. The spirit that boils from our good choices and sacrifices cannot and must not be extinguished during our dark times, yet we are reminded every day that darkness is at our doorstep.

The Wrong Way to Get People to Do the Right Thing

By Alfie Kohn on May 07, 2015 in The Homework Myth
It may seem a matter of hard-headed realism to emphasize "enlightened self-interest" (rather than altruism) in our efforts to promote individual acts of caring or to justify spending public funds to address infant mortality or spousal abuse. But this approach, just like rewarding children when they do nice things, is counterproductive over the long haul.

Are LGBTs More Likely to Pursue a Career in Nonprofits?

LGBTs espouse stronger altruism than heterosexuals

Kindness Is Our Business

By Tim Leberecht on May 01, 2015 in The Romance of Work
Small or big acts of kindness have become an outright trend both at the workplace and in customer experiences—and that’s a good thing!

5 Secrets to Happiness

Finding one's happiness is each individual’s personal adventure, but research can provide some guidance. Find out what science tells us is the key to finding your happiness and learn the five essential elements that lead to well-being.

5 Ways to Know When to Leave the Relationship

You don't want to go home anymore. You don't look forward to seeing or being in the actual company of the person with whom you are intimately involved. You prefer the idea of the relationship to the reality of it; you have an idealized image of the beloved that is far enough removed from the everyday, authentic person that being in his or her presence undermines, erodes an