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

What Most People Get Wrong About Generosity and Selfishness

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on August 28, 2015 in Ambigamy
People treat generosity as all good and selfishness as all bad. It's more complicated than that. Still, pretending it's that simple can be a great way to grab what we want.

Emotional Generosity

Here's Why We Need More Emotion In Our Relationships

The History and Psychology of Warrior Women

Warrior Women, Archetype, History, Psychology

Are You Building a Community, or an Organization?

Developing a sense of community in any organization is usually a plus, but keep in mind that a true community is a very difficult achievement. Most businesses and even non-profits ultimately must prioritize their organizational goals, otherwise they are likely to become a thing of the past.

"Eggsploitation: Maggie's Story" and Risks of Egg Retrieval

By Elliot Hosman J.D. on August 14, 2015 in Genetic Crossroads
"Eggsploitation: Maggie's Story" reveals how the fertility industry takes advantage of individuals' altruistic motives in search of profit while the medical risks remain unknown.

The Altruism of the Rich and the Poor

By Jesse Marczyk on August 12, 2015 in Pop Psych
A new paper finds that the rich tend to be more charitable than previously-studied groups. Interestingly enough, the poor are also a rather charitable bunch. How can we explain both of these facts?

What It Takes to Support a Conscious Disruptor

By Miki Kashtan Ph.D. on August 11, 2015 in Acquired Spontaneity
In a world in which exchange is the norm, letting go of any accounting, giving as much as I can, and asking for all I want, are radical acts. Every step of the way, I have encountered people who tell me what I am trying to do isn’t possible.

4 Ways to Set Boundaries

By Shawn M. Burn Ph.D. on August 04, 2015 in Presence of Mind
Most of us must set boundaries around our helping and giving at some point in our lives. But internal conflict is common when we place limits on what we’ll do for or give to others, even when we know it’s the right thing to do. Managing this boundary-setting ambivalence is key to setting and maintaining healthy boundaries.

A New Kidney for My Father

I feel a depth of gratitude that is akin to something spiritual.

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 Social Instincts
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.