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

Standing at the Edge: The New Book by Roshi Joan Halifax

By Mark Matousek on February 15, 2018 in Ethical Wisdom
In her new book, Standing At the Edge: Finding Freedom Where Fear and Courage Meet, medical anthropologist and Zen master Joan Halifax investigates "moral distress" and burnout.

Don't Let the Bully Win

Bullies can emerge in any human community. Here's the evolutionary psychology of how we deal with them.

Eric Clapton on Healing From Trauma

"It ain't about what I want, it's about what I can give."

Digital Depersonalization

By Elena Bezzubova on January 26, 2018 in The Search for Self
Living in two homes—old material and new digital—we are balancing on the edge of reality and virtuality. The disturbance of this balance can lead to digital depersonalization.

Volunteering: The Most Humbling Selfish Act of Kindness

“Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more.” ― H. Jackson Brown Jr.

Sometimes Being "Nice" Is Just Wrong

Are you being "nice" when you listen to someone's rant? Being kind might just mean saying No.

Social Cohesiveness

By Po Chi Wu Ph.D. on January 09, 2018 in Jacob's Staff
Fighting over differences only leads to increasing violence and divisiveness. Who can change the mind of another? What is a constructive alternative for positive change?

Saving the Planet Feels Good

Can positive emotions help save the environment? New research suggests that a warm-glow from engaging in virtuous moral behaviors can encourage green behavior.

The Art of Loving in the 21st Century

Our days can be filled with love and happiness—if we really want it.

How to Incorporate More Gratitude Into Your Life This Year

Incorporating more gratitude into your life could be the easiest way to change your life this year. Here's an easy way to become more grateful.

2018 Awareness Calendar

It only takes one person to make a difference - just think of what thousands can do.

Five New Year Resolutions to Improve your Mental Health

By Rob Whitley, Ph.D. on January 01, 2018 in Talking About Men
Evidence suggests that certain self-initiated activities can be very beneficial for mental health. A new year resolution based on one of these activities may be a life-changer.

How to Be a Good Person (and Help Save the World)

Here are some practical ways to become a better person

Acknowledgment, Validation, and Praise

To sit down with our beloved in a formal session to exchange what I love about you is an intimate and soul-nourishing experience.

Is There Really True Love?

Is the idea of a true love that lasts forever an outdated concept?
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Giver, Receiver, Gift

By Kate Levinson Ph.D. on December 19, 2017 in Emotional Currency
The year-end pressure to buy gifts for family and friends, and to donate, is on. How do you feel about giving and receiving?

How to Raise "Good" Children

How do we help our children become good people? A few behaviors can teach them the way.

Want a More Altruistic Brain? Try Daily Gratitude Journaling

By Christopher Bergland on December 18, 2017 in The Athlete's Way
Taking a few minutes each day to express gratitude in writing can cultivate "pure altruism" on a neural level, according to a new brain imaging study.
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Are Heroes and Psychopaths Cut From the Same Cloth?

Do evil psychopaths and valiant heroes share a common core? The issue is complicated, but hard-core psychopaths are highly unlikely to be motivated to become heroes.
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Doing for the Greater Good: What's Needed from Professors

What is generally rewarded in academia is the enhancement of one's status and prestige. Being a good citizen is rarely rewarded. In fact, it can work against promotion and tenure.

Santa Must Be a Woman

By Michael Ungar Ph.D. on December 10, 2017 in Nurturing Resilience
If we look at the science of gift-giving and expectations for who does what over the holidays, then Santa has to be a woman. Men just aren't up for the task.
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Study Shows Generous Behavior Leads to Increased Happiness

Helping others can lead us toward a brighter tomorrow.

52 Ways to Show I Love You: Provide Pleasure

By Roni Beth Tower Ph.D., ABPP on December 03, 2017 in Life, Refracted
We can give a gift that costs money, time, or energy, to fulfill an expectation, provide delight, underscore our recognition of who a loved one is, or to recognize a bond.

10 Evolutionary Psychological Concepts That People Don’t Get

Evolutionary psychology is a powerful framework for understanding human behavior. Unfortunately, the field is woefully misrepresented. Here's how.
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Six Reasons Why People Give Their Money Away, or Not

By Sara Konrath Ph.D. on November 26, 2017 in The Empathy Gap
Why do people give away their hard-earned money to charity? An economist and a psychologist explain.

The Virality Equation

By Sander van der Linden Ph.D. on November 25, 2017 in Social Dilemmas
What makes some issues go viral, while others never seem to take off? New research explains why.

How Practicing Humility Can Help Your Love Life

In terms of dating and relationships, there is a lid that fits every pot and it is easier to find the lid for your pot if you’re not blowing off every lid with steam and arrogance.

The Practice of Mindfulness

Be mindful of this life you are living. It is going to happen, day by day, until it expires, regardless of how you approach it. Might as well enjoy the ride.

Why People Who Have Less Give More

By Utpal Dholakia on November 20, 2017 in The Science Behind Behavior
Every one of us can learn valuable lessons from the generosity and compassion of the poor.

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.