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

Custodians of the Neighborhood

We like to keep our neighborhoods in good condition—free of graffiti, broken streetlights, litter, and potholes. Who are the custodians of our neighborhoods? And are they wasting their time?

The Self-Deceptions of Recycling

By Kenneth Worthy Ph.D. on March 31, 2015 in The Green Mind
It’s important to keep in mind that recycling not only takes large amounts of energy and resources to turn materials into products again, it also may lead to greater consumption and avoidance of better solutions. It’s better to instead focus on the three Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

Changing the ‘No Casserole’ Response to Mental Illness

A mother of two who is active in the International Bipolar Foundation shared a story the other day. When her youngest daughter was diagnosed with diabetes, friends called, sent cards and flowers, brought food, and posted encouraging Facebook messages.

Did Copilot Andreas Lubitz Conceal His Illness?

Many patients with severe, melancholic depression dissimulate and pretend that everything is fine so that family and caregivers will not block their suicidal plans. This danger of dissimulation in severe depression is something that psychiatrists have always known about.

Peter Singer Argues for "Effective Altruism" in His New Book

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on March 25, 2015 in Animal Emotions
Renowned philosopher Peter Singer's new book called "The Most Good You Can Do" is a very thoughtful discussion about charitable giving. Whether you agree or disagree with Professor Singer's arguments I guarantee they will make you think deeply about what you do with your money and if your donations really do the most good you can do. This book also left me hopeful.

Rescue the Mangroves, Rescue Ourselves?

By Sam Osherson Ph.D. on March 24, 2015 in Listen Up!
A small, dirt-road fishing village on the Pacific coast of Mexico organizes to restore their threatened ocean environment and provides hope for all of us. They remind us of the powerful hunger to take care of the natural world and "our animal relatives."

We Really Do Die Alone

By Michael Friedman Ph.D. on March 24, 2015 in Brick by Brick
When working to improve public health, there are often many things that we simply can't change. Social isolation has proven to be a robust and significant risk factor of poor health and early mortality. And there is something we can do about it.

The One-Minute Group Meditation

Of all the interventions available for facilitators, this one minute at the end of group has impressed me most.

If Selfish Genes Build Brains, Why Aren’t We All Solipsists?

Contrary to what you might think, the “selfish gene” paradigm does not imply that we should be self-centered to the point of believing that only we exist.

Do You Like Your Sister?

Sympathy, compassion, understanding, respect, generosity and a willingness to forgive are essential features of every important relationship, including ones between members of an immediate family.

How Helping a Friend Can Go Horribly Wrong

By Shawn M. Burn Ph.D. on March 18, 2015 in Presence of Mind
Providing loans, housing, or jobs to friends or relatives is risky business, fraught with potential conflict. These dual personal and business relationships can result in unexpected internal and interpersonal conflict and temporarily or permanently damage the personal relationship, or strengthen it. Here are some guidelines for managing your dual relationships.

Science and the Online Dating Profile

Online dating is the new singles bar, one in which your words won't be drowned out by the music. But which words should you use? There is some scientific evidence about relatively more effective ways to turn an online contact into a real huggable moment.

Leaders: We Love Humble Leaders But Idolize Narcissists

By Ray Williams on March 17, 2015 in Wired for Success
Research shows that humble leaders whose focus is to serve others are equally successful, but more importantly, capture the hearts and loyalty of others.

I’m the Weirdest Codependent in the World

By Anna David on March 16, 2015 in After Party Chat
In some situations, I'll bend myself into a pretzel trying to make others comfortable. The rest of the time, I'll do and say anything without worrying about people's feelings. I don't fit the standard definition of a codependent but trust me, I qualify for the label.

Do We Age in Stages?

By Steven Mintz Ph.D. on March 12, 2015 in The Prime of Life
Today's adults have greater freedom than ever to decide how best to live.

After 15 Years, What Does Positive Psychology Teach?

By Temma Ehrenfeld on March 10, 2015 in Open Gently
The positive psychology movement is 15 years old. What have we learned?

Womb for One

By Robert D. Martin Ph.D. on March 10, 2015 in How We Do It
The single-chambered womb of women is rare among mammals, which mostly have two separate womb chambers. Through developmental accident, a double womb occasionally recurs in women, but surprisingly does not stand in the way of successful pregnancy. Reduction from two chambers to one in evolutionary has some connection with single births, but there are twists in the story.

What My Son Has Taught Me About Autism and Parenting

By Stephen Borgman on March 10, 2015 in Spectrum Solutions
Here's a simple way to improve your parenting on the autism spectrum.

3 Ways to Well-Being

By Steve Taylor Ph.D. on March 09, 2015 in Out of the Darkness
We can find happiness through changing the way we live, changing the way we think, and experiencing the natural happiness of being itself.

How Do You Run a Successful Research Lab?

By Todd B Kashdan Ph.D. on March 09, 2015 in Curious?
How to conduct an ideal laboratory for productivity and creativity. Lessons on science and leadership and what I wish I knew when I started a tenure-track position with little guidance.

Interview Lies: Typical Untruths Told in Selection Inteviews

By Adrian Furnham Ph.D. on March 07, 2015 in A Sideways View
Some say the problem with using personality tests for selection is that people lie on them. But what about lying in interviews? Who, when, why and how do both interviewers and interviewees tell lies of various types to try to create a good impression.

When We Are I, And I Am We

By Eyal Winter on March 06, 2015 in Feeling Smart
Teamwork, Solidarity, Bonus, Peers

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.

Has Being Self-Centered Gotten a Bad Rap?

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.

A Single Question Can Boost Your Chance of Getting a Date

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...