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

Un-Churched Chimps

Research on monkeys and chimpanzees suggests that moral sensibilities evolved long before religious sensibilities.

Finding Truth and Authenticity in an Age of Irony

The artist—and we all are artists, good, bad, or ugly—expands the ordinary into the extraordinary or condenses the extraordinary into the common. He, she, enchants the cosmos.

How Marketers Manipulate You Into Becoming Their Friend

New research reveals how shockingly easy it is to manipulate consumers to like and forgive marketers that deceive them.

The Power of Awe: A Sense of Wonder Promotes Loving-Kindness

A new study led by researchers at the University of California reports that having a sense of wonder and being in awe of something greater than oneself promotes loving-kindness and prosocial behavior.

The One Graduation Message We All Need to Hear

The field of evolutionary psychology has enormous implications for how to guide the next generation of leaders. In particular, the field helps illuminate the nature of giving—a value that we expect all of our graduates to internalize.

Tom Brady Broke the Rules, But Don't We All?

By Mark Travers Ph.D. on May 14, 2015 in The Sports Mind
Before we tie Tom Brady to the whipping post, perhaps we should think about the times we bent, finessed, or massaged the rules for our own benefit.

A Workover: "What Should I Do?"

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on May 14, 2015 in How To Do Life
Simple questions to help you choose a career or make any big decision.

Multilingual Environments Enrich Our Understanding of Others

Even if you're not bilingual, exposure to multiple languages improves the ability to put yourself in someone else's shoes and see the world from another perspective.

Is Life Just a Sequence of Random Events?

By Po Chi Wu Ph.D. on May 12, 2015 in Jacob's Staff
How do we understand the role of luck in our lives? If value and meaning can only be achieved by a sequence of events, does that sequence reflect a pre-determined pattern? Whose pattern? Where does this line of thinking take us in terms of planning? How are artists and entrepreneurs different from the rest of us? How do we find meaning in life?

Memorial Day: A Gift That Keeps On Giving

We all need general convictions that give meaning to our life and enable us to find a place for ourselves in the larger universe. The spirit that boils from our good choices and sacrifices cannot and must not be extinguished during our dark times, yet we are reminded every day that darkness is at our doorstep.

The Wrong Way to Get People to Do the Right Thing

By Alfie Kohn on May 07, 2015 in The Homework Myth
It may seem a matter of hard-headed realism to emphasize "enlightened self-interest" (rather than altruism) in our efforts to promote individual acts of caring or to justify spending public funds to address infant mortality or spousal abuse. But this approach, just like rewarding children when they do nice things, is counterproductive over the long haul.

Are LGBTs More Likely to Pursue a Career in Nonprofits?

LGBTs Espouse Stronger Altruism Than Heterosexuals

Kindness Is Our Business

By Tim Leberecht on May 01, 2015 in The Romance of Work
Small or big acts of kindness have become an outright trend both at the workplace and in customer experiences—and that’s a good thing!

5 Secrets to Happiness

Finding one's happiness is each individual’s personal adventure, but research can provide some guidance. Find out what science tells us is the key to finding your happiness and learn the five essential elements that lead to well-being.

5 Ways to Know When to Leave the Relationship

You don't want to go home anymore. You don't look forward to seeing or being in the actual company of the person with whom you are intimately involved. You prefer the idea of the relationship to the reality of it; you have an idealized image of the beloved that is far enough removed from the everyday, authentic person that being in his or her presence undermines, erodes an

Ivan Denisovich vs Ants

Alexandr Solzhenitsyn admitted that Russians were occasionally like insects. But he didn't like it.

10 Tips to Change From Reactive to Proactive in Situations

All of us encounter experiences in life when we may be temporally overwhelmed by a negative emotion, be it anger, pressure, nervousness, despair, or confusion. In these situations, how we choose to “master the moment” can make the difference between proactive versus reactive, and confidence versus insecurity. Here are ten ways to be less reactive in difficult situations...

Who Owns the Embryos?

By Joann P. Galst Ph.D. on April 18, 2015 in Fertility Factor
What couples can learn from the conflict over embryo disposition between Sofia Vergara and her ex-partner Nick Loeb.

The Art and Science of Haggling

By Adrian Furnham Ph.D. on April 18, 2015 in A Sideways View
Often the most popular skills based courses are those on negotiation. They teach among other things the gentle but very important arts of haggling and persuasion: in short how to get a good deal. Why is it so important and what is the fundamental psychology of haggling?

The Gold Standard for Healing the World...

Remember an incident when someone listened deeply to you and then talked with you when you were in a bad place. Would you want to honor that person if you could? If so, they would just want you to do onto someone else what they did onto you. Isn't that so?

Expanding the Self

We should reciprocate the gift of our own lives..... To be focused narrowly - worrying excessively about our personal skills and accomplishments and about the public's regards of these - is to remain forever a child.

What Do I Need in Order to Live the Way I Want?

There is an "in spite of" quality to pursuing what is most important in life.

Are Women More Emotional Than Men?

Is There Evidence of Women’s Greater Negative Emotionality All Around the World?

What Makes a Book Great?

By Sheila Kohler on April 09, 2015 in Dreaming for Freud
I have been reading “Crime and Punishment” with a group of New Yorkers. Where else could one find a group of people interested enough to meet every week or so and discuss a book of this kind? We are all enjoying the book so much, so that at one point I asked somewhat guiltily if it might actually be considered “trash” rather than the great book history has decided it is.

Making the Most of Your Charitable Giving

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on April 08, 2015 in How To Do Life
Most people work hard for the money they give to charity, but that money often doesn't do as much good as it could.

The Zen of Love

What propels a person to leave the beaten path and try something new? We seem to be predetermined by our early experiences, especially when it comes to abuse and neglect. Yet, some people free themselves of their conditioning and leap into something they have never encountered: love. Little do we comprehend when it comes to leaps, but what we know may just be a good start.

Biased? Yes, against the tide and FOR baby’s needs

By Darcia Narvaez Ph.D. on April 05, 2015 in Moral Landscapes
Someone recently remarked that I was biased... Yes, I am biased FOR babies. I am out of sync with biases that lead people to think letting babies scream is a good thing. Not!

Want To Be A Hero? Embrace Suffering and Sacrifice

The wisdom gleaned from theology and psychology reveals six ways that suffering and sacrifice are beneficial to human beings.

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?