Essential Reads

Why Is It So Hard to Be Altruistic?

Cooperation and generosity are the norm, not the exception.

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.

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.

More Posts on Altruism

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.

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.

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.

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?

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

A Man and His Dog

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on March 09, 2017 in How To Do Life
A short-short story

Humanists Doing Good in Uganda, Part 1

By Phil Zuckerman Ph.D. on March 01, 2017 in The Secular Life
Humanist schools and orphanages in Africa are helping children in need.

A Better Mousetrap: The Heart of Com-passion

By Gregg Levoy on February 27, 2017 in Passion!
Passion means "to suffer," and compassion means shared suffering. This story explores what's at the heart of compassion, and asks what we're willing to pay for it.

Greed Is Good?

By Nigel Barber Ph.D. on February 22, 2017 in The Human Beast
Greed is good! Sharing is for Communists and losers! Do such maxims capture the essence of human social behavior?

Cultivating Generosity

By Kate Levinson Ph.D. on February 08, 2017 in Emotional Currency
Ordinary generosity is extraordinary.

Immigration and the Benefits of Other-Regarding Actions

By Mark O'Connell L.C.S.W.- R. on January 29, 2017 in Quite Queerly
Studies show that empathy, generosity, and altruism can lead to a healthier, happier, and longer life. So, let's offer it up to our fellow Americans: old, new, and aspiring.

Noblesse Oblige in a “Let Them Eat Cake” Nouveau Riche Era

By Christopher Bergland on January 25, 2017 in The Athlete's Way
All too often, a "greed is good" mentality makes people behave selfishly. This post presents anecdotal and empirical evidence that reaffirm the benefits of generosity and kindness.

The Psychology of Stronger Together

On January 21, 2017, millions of people around the world marched to support women's rights. The evolutionary psychology of forming communities can help us understand why.

Dear Mr. President: New Anthology of Letters from Teens

By Jennifer Haupt on January 18, 2017 in One True Thing
Letters to President Trump from diverse students nationwide express a wide range of concerns as well as compassion.

This New Year Focus on Something that Helps You and Others

By Christine Porath Ph.D. on January 13, 2017 in Thriving at Work
Consider how civil you are, and what you can do to improve, because your civility can provide benefits—to you and others— all year round.
San Francisco Zen Center

How Much Is Enough?

By Kate Levinson Ph.D. on January 12, 2017 in Emotional Currency
What a tea ceremony revealed about my relationship with money.

2017 Awareness Calendar

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

Life (and Death) Lessons Learned from "The Walking Dead"

The Walking Dead offers commentary on the struggles anyone might face in the worst situations. People can struggle to retain their humanity even without an apocalyptic scenario.

3 Inspiring Stories of Everyday Compassion

By Jennifer Haupt on December 30, 2016 in One True Thing
These folks have made the world a little brighter for others in totally different ways.

Gifts and Burdens

By Katherine Hawley Ph.D. on December 22, 2016 in Trust
Why is it so difficult to get it right?

4 Reasons Why People Regift

For many, regifting is common practice. But what motivates a person to pass along a gift?

Hormones and Brain Regions Behind Eye Contact and Empathy

Clues to the hormonal and brain correlates of eye contact and empathy have been provided by studies of people with autistic symptoms.

The Spirit of Generosity Part 2

When my husband says he loves me, I sometimes say, “Give me the details.”