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

Are Psychopathy and Heroism Two Sides of the Same Coin?

By Romeo Vitelli Ph.D. on November 16, 2017 in Media Spotlight
A new research study looking at first responders suggests that heroes and psychopaths have more in common than you might think.

16 Easy Random Acts of Kindness to Practice Today

By Meg Selig on November 12, 2017 in Changepower
Once you start practicing random acts of kindness, you will notice a multitude of opportunities to help others. Soon you may notice that you've developed "the kindness habit."

Bekindr Kindness Study Shows We Put Ourselves Last in Line

By Eva Ritvo M.D. on November 11, 2017 in On Vitality
This general kindness quiz that was completed by more than 1,300 people. I would like to share with you the highlights of this study, along with a few surprises.

Why Be Tolerant? Lessons From Bonobos

By Lydia Denworth on November 10, 2017 in Brain Waves
Humans aren't the only species willing to help strangers for no benefit. Bonobos, one of our closest relatives, do it, too.

Confronting the Extreme Vitriol and Hate in Society

People are so much more complicated than we'd like to acknowledge and not all good or all bad. The wisdom of the famous two wolves parable has quality research to support it.

Power: Five Non-Traditional Views

By Robert Enright Ph.D. on October 30, 2017 in The Forgiving Life
Is your basic life-orientation to seek power over others or to use what power you have to be in service to others? Five ideas are presented to help you self-examine power.
Wikimedia Commons, public domain

And the Lady from Philadelphia Said...

By E E Smith on October 29, 2017 in Not Born Yesterday
The only thing I know about someone called the “Lady from Philadelphia” is that she was a character in a novel, possibly by Charles Dickens.

Collective Intelligence in the Holocene: 7

By Michael Hogan Ph.D. on October 13, 2017 in In One Lifespan
Notwithstanding the uniqueness of human beings, a focus on the broadest timescale of analysis reminds us that evolution unites Homo sapiens with all other living systems.

Thoughts on Action Versus Reflection

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on October 11, 2017 in How To Do Life
My answer to a relative's question.

Trust: The Key to Social Harmony

By Joe Navarro M.A. on October 05, 2017 in Spycatcher
At the foundation of all great relationships whether at home or at work lies trust.

Consciousness Hack 3: Kindness

By Dana Klisanin Ph.D. on October 02, 2017 in Digital Altruism
Looking for an easy way to increases happiness and energy levels? An act of kindness can go a long way.

The Weight of the World

By Wendy Lustbader M.S.W. on September 24, 2017 in Life Gets Better
We are not helpless.There is power in the collective will to survive and make life good for those who come after us.

Born Good?

Economists, taking altruism seriously, find mixed evidence parents model it for their young children, stronger evidence that young kids are impressionable in this domain.

Do We Humans "Need" Tragedies to Bring Us Together?

By Saul Levine M.D. on September 22, 2017 in Our Emotional Footprint
During major cataclysms, differences and conflicts between us seem to dissipate, and we tend to reach out to each other with increased caring, empathy, and sense of community.

How Group Therapy Can Empty Your Basket of Troubles

Unsatisfied with individual therapy? Here's how a group can help.

Do Romantic Relationships Imply a Loss of Self? Should They?

A recent column by David Brooks raises the false dichotomy between individuality and sociality.

Truth Is Not the Only Truth

By Theodore Dalrymple M.D. on September 12, 2017 in Psychiatric Disorder
Is it necessary always to tell the truth? Shakespeare denied it and he was right.

Becoming a Patient

Ever wonder why physicians delay going for help for themselves? Here are some answers.

3 Tips to Donate Effectively After a Natural Disaster

By Utpal Dholakia on September 10, 2017 in The Science Behind Behavior
Giving cash, staggering donations, and vetting the charities you give to will ensure your donation has a greater impact.

52 Ways: A Story of Showing Love Through Food

By Roni Beth Tower Ph.D., ABPP on September 10, 2017 in Life, Refracted
Feeding others shows love by providing for, nourishing, seducing, or delighting.
Wikimedia Commons for noncommercial use

Handing One Another Along

By Erik M. Gregory Ph.D. on September 04, 2017 in The Secular Shepherd
The use of collective power for those in need

10 Ways to Improve Your Days

By Atalanta Beaumont on September 02, 2017 in Handy Hints for Humans
Ten Handy Hints for Improving your Life

Should You Donate to Disaster Relief?

Disasters capture our attention and emotions, but we may do more good by ditching empathy as a moral guide.

Evolutionary Logic

Some people are confused on the basic reasoning of evolutionary psychology. Once you understand “evolutionary logic,” it all falls into place.
Michael D. Kennedy/Wikimedia Commons

Are You Self-Sacrificing?

By Lisa Tessman Ph.D. on August 23, 2017 in I'm Only Human
Self-sacrifice doesn’t always involve sacrificing your own individual self. We also self-sacrifice when we give up what matters the most to us—which might not be our own self.

Tribalism and a Way to Common Ground

If you are tired of the on- and offline vitriol inhabiting our daily lives today, consider this: we have a lot more in common than you might think.

Three Ways Money Buys Happiness

By Mark Holder, Ph.D. on August 17, 2017 in The Happiness Doctor
Money really can buy happiness, if you spend it right. Research has identified three ways that spending your income can lead to greater happiness.

Superhero Therapy: A Book to Help Your Inner Hero

In her book Superhero Therapy, Janina Scarlet shows that a fear or weakness does not make a hero any less heroic, and that we all can be heroes both for ourselves and for others.

Holding the "Both-And" in Times of Stress

Compassion, wisdom, and curiosity may just be able to help us avoid the well trodden path to polarization, them vs us, and the limits of right and wrong. We are more than all that!

Seven Studies Show That Virtue Truly Is Its Own Reward

By Meg Selig on August 09, 2017 in Changepower
Is virtue really its own reward? These seven studies suggest that good actions actually do bring a surprising wealth of benefits to those who help others.