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

Decoding the Complex Brain Mechanics of Altruism and Empathy

A new study by a team of neuroscientists from Duke and Stanford University debunks the myth that a singular brain region is responsible for making decisions that affect others.

Pride in Mental Health: Advocacy

An interview with Jillian Weiss of Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, and Calvin Stowell of DoSomething.org.

Boost Your Sex Appeal in Four Extraordinary Ways

Ordinarily, to boost your sex appeal you alter your physical appearance, but try these extraordinary strategies, no physical alterations required!

Heat Wave Temperatures Make It Tougher to Do the Right Thing

As millions of people endure record-breaking heat waves, a new study reminds us of the psychological impact high temperatures can have on prosocial behaviors.

Seven Ways to Uplift a Friend (And Yourself) in Crisis

By Emma M. Seppälä Ph.D. on June 21, 2017 in Feeling It
How many times do we find ourselves with a friend who is going through a breakup, a loss, or another difficult life transition and find ourselves at a loss for what to do?

Innovation Handmaids

By Moses Ma on June 18, 2017 in The Tao of Innovation
What can The Handmaid's Tale teach us about technology innovation?

52 Ways to Show I Love You: Pitching In

In a situation requiring an extra hand, pitching in offers ways to show love.

Coping With Not Knowing What Happened to a Missing Loved One

We have become used to images of missing people collecting on street corners as signifying the hope of those searching for any news.

Ariana Grande, I Wish You Were Our President!

By Aldo Civico Ph.D. on June 07, 2017 in Turning Point
After an attack at the end of her concerts in Manchester, Ariana Grande chose to respond with compassion and courage, showing the quality of authentic leadership, needed today.

Paying It Forward: Generativity and Your Vagus Nerve

Scientific research suggests that if each of us made an effort to improve our "vagal tone" that we could create an upward spiral that would make the world a better place.

Kindness Towards Oneself and Others Tones Your Vagus Nerve

Having compassion towards yourself and others is the key to creating an "upward spiral" of well-being as marked by healthier vagal tone in your vagus nerve.

Awe Engages Your Vagus Nerve and Can Combat Narcissism

Recent research shows that experiencing a sense of awe promotes the "small self" and can combat narcissism by activating the parasympathetic vagal response to "tend-and-befriend."

Stop the Search: An Interview With Gangaji

By Mark Matousek on May 23, 2017 in Ethical Wisdom
Gangaji is one of the most respected spiritual teachers in America today. Her wise words are balm for the soul in our conflicted and dangerous times.

The Age of Dissociation

We are past the point of anxiety, and our defenses are maxed out.

Why Is It So Hard to Be Altruistic?

Cooperation and generosity are the norm, not the exception.

The Karma of Creativity

By Jennifer Haupt on May 07, 2017 in One True Thing
You volunteer, help others, treat the barista with respect, and try to be kind, and when you sit down to write, your imagination turns on like a friendly lightning bolt.

Is It Truly Better to Give Than to Receive?

By David Ludden Ph.D. on May 05, 2017 in Talking Apes
When we give, we reap more than we sow, as long as we do so willingly and believe it will help.

Psychology's Final Frontier: Understanding Heroism

Stories like the Star Trek episode “The City on the Edge of Forever” offer a chance to consider how we would act when facing the profound unknown and facing great moral dilemmas.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

By Grant H. Brenner M.D. on April 27, 2017 in ExperiMentations
What is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and what does it mean?

Interview: Star Trek Psychology and the Hero Coalition

Pop Culture Heroism Coalition discuss why their focus shifted from opposing bullying to promoting heroism and how examples from popular culture can make a difference in real life.

Negotiate Sexual Differences, Part 2: How Often We Do It

By Ari Tuckman PsyD, MBA on April 14, 2017 in Sex Matters
Do you and partner disagree on how often to have sex? Here's how to find common ground.

Helping Your Neighbor

We often help others with expectations of help in return at a future point. Turns out, this is a basic feature of what it means to be human.

On Raising an Honest Child

How do we teach our kids to be honest, even if it means admitting to breaking the rules? Research on children's lying behavior might be able to provide us with some helpful hints.

The Power of Awe: "A Star Is Born" Images and the Small Self

New mind-blowing photographs of a star being born 500 years ago reaffirm the "awesome" power of nature to promote self-transcendence, the small self, and prosocial behaviors.

Where Is A Psychology of Heartlessness When You Need One?

By Shawn M. Burn Ph.D. on April 02, 2017 in Presence of Mind
How can people support policies that will increase the hardship of vulnerable groups and still maintain their belief that they are good and moral people?

Wanting Less, So Long As Others Don't Get More

If others get more, would we prefer to get nothing?

5 BIG Ideas on Who We Are

To truly understand what it means to be human, an understanding of evolution is essential. Here are five eye-opening reasons why.

On Giving

By Kate Levinson Ph.D. on March 25, 2017 in Emotional Currency
Gifting is contagious. And as the Pope says, it is "always right" to give to the needy.

A Single Act of Amnesty: the Heart of Com-passion

By Gregg Levoy on March 20, 2017 in Passion!
Passion comes from a word meaning "to suffer," and compassion means shared suffering. As with last month’s post, this month's features a second story about the power of com-passion