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. After all, cooperative behavior did allow 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

Do You Accept the Gift?

By Rick Hanson Ph.D. on February 08, 2016 Your Wise Brain
Focus on what others communicate, and try to receive that as a valuable offering. Open your mind to the good that is implicit or down deep in the other person.

Risky Business: The Psychology of Facing Danger

By Seth Slater M.F.A. on January 27, 2016 The Dolphin Divide
How we arrive at the willingness to take calculated risks. Specific components of mental conditioning are often required to face moments of grave danger.

Money Can Feed Your Heart and Soul As Well As Your Belly

Take off your blindfolds about money and discover if how you spend money is in sync with what you value in the world.

Real Magic

By James Doty M.D. on January 25, 2016 The Magic Shop
One eighth grader learns how to make friends and influence people.

3 Simple Tricks to Make Thank-Yous Memorable

Writing a thank you letter has been found to result a huge increase in happiness for the writer, with the benefits lasting over a month. Here's how to make them stand out.

Thinking About Thinking

By James Doty M.D. on January 25, 2016 The Magic Shop
My first mantra.

The Case for Greater Authenticity

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on January 25, 2016 How To Do Life
We live in a world that rewards hype and dishonesty. Should we capitulate?

The Neuroscience of Comforting Behavior in Times of Distress

A groundbreaking new study has pinpointed the brain systems that drive humans—and other animals—to physically comfort others during times of distress.

Designer Genes

By Diane Tober Ph.D. on January 21, 2016 The Age of Biotech
Rejecting sperm and egg providers because of ADHD and Dyslexia? Cultural myths abound surrounding "disability" and genetics.

3 Definitive Ways to Beat Winter Blues

By Emma M. Seppälä Ph.D. on January 20, 2016 Feeling It
Winter can be a downer. Here are three ways to make the best of it.

When Good Intentions Aren’t Enough

By Shawn M. Burn Ph.D. on January 14, 2016 Presence of Mind
We usually expect our gifts and help to strengthen our relationship . But that doesn’t always happen because good intentions aren’t enough for successful helping and giving.

Do Women Prefer Handsome Men or Helpful Men?

Women are attracted to men who are altruistic and good looking. But, if you had to choose, which would be more important to you?

Beware of Performers Bearing Gifts

Being generous is, of course, a wonderful quality. It is also the sheep’s clothes of irrelationship, allowing us to hide our anxiety about being close to others.

The Power of Asking for Help

By Gregg Levoy on January 06, 2016 Passion!
We all need help. Here's why it's critical to ask for it.

Dogs Share Food With Dog Friends Rather Than With Strangers

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on December 25, 2015 Animal Emotions
A new study shows dogs prefer to share food with dog friends rather than with strangers. This is an example of prosocial behavior but it is not necessarily altruistic.

"Loving Thy Neighbor As Thyself" Makes Us Healthy and Happy

Scientific studies have found that small acts of generosity improve the health and happiness of both the giver and receiver.

Your Brain Can Learn to Empathize with Outside Groups

A new study shows that having a few positive experiences with strangers from another group can trigger empathetic brain responses towards members of this unfamiliar outside group.

The Happiness Quest

Psychologists have extensively studied happiness with its many complicated emotional and thought facets.

The Magic Trifecta of World-Class Gifting

A trio of psychological buttons that world-class gifters know how to push.

The Social Cure For Mental Illness

By Allen J Frances M.D. on December 19, 2015 Saving Normal
We are social animals who can be fully human only when interacting with others. In the US, we worsen the symptoms of our mentally ill by neglecting their needs and excluding them f

Taking the ‘X’ Out of Xmas: Xenophobia and the Golden Rule

By Joe Pierre M.D. on December 17, 2015 Psych Unseen
Could a war on xenophobia revive the true meaning of Christmas?

Our Amygdala Influences Kindness and Altruism, Not Just Fear

The amygdala is not just the brain's "fear center." A new study reports that the "love hormone" oxytocin can influence kindness, altruism and charitable behavior via the amygdala.

The Many Faces of Alex on a Saturday

Donations for poverty stricken residents of Alexandra Township in Johannesburg, South Africa, enable healthy lives.

Spending Is Less Rewarding Than Giving

Grace learns to spend little, but gift enough as she battles credit card debt.

5 Polite Ways to Disarm Rude People

A new study reports that rude behavior is contagious. What can be done to break the vicious cycle of rudeness? This post offers five polite ways to disarm rude people.

Charity Isn't the Only Way to Make a Difference

Purpose is more than a stated mission—people must understand and see how their own work matters within that larger context.

Explaining Americans' Reluctance to Accept Syrian Refugees

By Shawn M. Burn Ph.D. on November 25, 2015 Presence of Mind
The Syrian conflict has created the biggest humanitarian crisis since WWII yet over fifty percent of Americans oppose Syrian resettlement in the United States. Terror management theory, the principle of moral exclusion, and the study of prosocial behavior help explain why.

Beauty and Fear: Thanksgiving From a Different Perspective

The act of giving can be enhanced when you give from a cup that runneth over, from knowing the true nature of inner beauty. Looking at Thanksgiving from a different perspective.

The Healing Power of Gratitude

Science shows that gratitude is good for us both mentally and physically. As we aim to cultivate more gratitude, there are two questions to consider: what barriers do we face in feeling grateful in our daily lives, and how can we connect more fully to our feelings of appreciation?

Why Social Media Matters in the Paris Terrorist Attacks

Acts of terrorism need to be public to get attention, to spread fear. Social media amplifies it all. People around the world instantaneously see the horror and feel the sense of vulnerability and chaos. Social media also shows terrorism for what it is, senseless, reprehensible violence. Because of this, it brings people together and strengthens the resolve to oppose it.