Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Altruism leads to more altruism

From The Greater Good Blog
Ever get that warm fuzzy feeling in your chest when you see someone do something nice for someone else? Scientists call that feeling “elevation,” and studies show that people experience elevation when they witness a virtuous act, especially one that helps others.

But does this good feeling actually lead to good deeds? That’s what psychologist Simone Schnall and colleagues wanted to find out in a new study published in Psychological Science, asking whether feelings of elevation lead to altruistic behavior.

[A couple of experiments are described]

The results convince Schnall and her colleagues that witnessing goodness is in fact enough to inspire kind, helpful—or “prosocial”—behavior.

“Our findings suggest that, by eliciting elevation, even brief exposure to other individuals’ prosocial behavior motivates altruism,” write the authors, “thus potentially providing an avenue for increasing the general level of prosociality in society.”
See The Greater Good Blog for details about the experiment.

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