Thursday, July 13, 2017

Generous People Live Happier Lives #Science #Health

Generosity makes people happier, even if they are only a little generous, suggests new research.

Credit: © MG / Fotolia

It seems an intuitive thing that a giving person will be happier and more caring.  We know it's true since a synonym for miserly is mean and we don't see a big payload of happiness in that.  However, these impressions are never enough for scientists since they want to know why should giving make us happier.

Generosity makes people happier, even if they are only a little generous. People who act solely out of self-interest are less happy. Merely promising to be more generous is enough to trigger a change in our brains that makes us happier. This is what UZH neuroeconomists found in a recent study.

Science Daily:  Generous people live happier lives

Editorial sidenote of other news:  apparently neuroeconomist is now a word and we're just thankful the parade of portmanteaus in the New Age is so productive.

The brain actually changes when we're generous or thinking about being generous.  I'm not a neuroeconomist since I only learned the word a minute ago but I'm curious largely because the idea of it is so strange.

What some have been aware of for a long time, others find hard to believe: Those who are concerned about the well-being of their fellow human beings are happier than those who focus only on their own advancement. Doing something nice for another person gives many people a pleasant feeling that behavioral economists call a warm glow. In collaboration with international researchers, Philippe Tobler and Ernst Fehr from the Department of Economics at the University of Zurich investigated how brain areas communicate to produce this feeling. The results provide insight into the interplay between altruism and happiness.

- SD

The Rockhouse doesn't have much in terms of physical largesse but I can write either something original or about something I found elsewhere and the result is maybe something you did not have before.  A warm glow sounds like something after sex and writing is not exactly commensurate but there's a swell feeling on completing an article and thinking that one said it well.  That feeling isn't so much from the sense of accomplishment but rather the feeling it's written well enough to bring it to someone and that serves the Theory of Propagated Goodness.

Note:  there's no lofty philosophy behind the Theory of Propagated Goodness since really all it says if you make some goodness then it will spread.

In their experiments, the researchers found that people who behaved generously were happier afterwards than those who behaved more selfishly. However, the amount of generosity did not influence the increase in contentment. "You don't need to become a self-sacrificing martyr to feel happier. Just being a little more generous will suffice," says Philippe Tobler.

- SD

The Rockhouse has emphasized multiple times we don't want to rape the meat shields around the filthy rich.  Those people may have saved up a few million dollars but they earned every damn one of them and they're not the same as the ones on the top.  It's not our purpose to declare the level of generosity anyone should ever show except to say if you're doing it like the ultra rich, you're doing it wrong.

For example, there was a blurb which showed Katy Perry spent immense amounts of money for a holiday in some incredibly exclusive resort and that professed to show her happiness ... but ... if that type of self-indulgence is what makes her happy, we submit most of the time she must not be happy.

We further submit conspicuous consumption does not reveal happiness but rather its absence.

Simply promising to behave generously activated the altruistic area of the brain and intensified the interaction between this area and the area associated with happiness. "It is remarkable that intent alone generates a neural change before the action is actually implemented," says Tobler.

"Promising to behave generously could be used as a strategy to reinforce the desired behavior, on the one hand, and to feel happier, on the other," says Tobler. His co-author Soyoung Park adds: "There are still some open questions, such as: Can communication between these brain regions be trained and strengthened? If so, how? And, does the effect last when it is used deliberately, that is, if a person only behaves generously in order to feel happier?"

- SD

The Rockhouse probably won't enhance anyone's happiness or joy joy feelings by answering those rhetorical questions.  However, they do give reason to think and we know you're thinkers or you wouldn't be here.

In conclusion they offer how they ran the experiment.

At the beginning of the experiment, the 50 participants were promised a sum of money that they would receive in the next few weeks and were supposed to spend. Half of the study participants committed to spending the money on someone they knew (experimental group, promise of generosity), while the other half committed to spending the money on themselves (control group).

Subsequently, all of the study participants made a series of decisions concerning generous behavior, namely, whether to giving somebody who is close to them a gift of money. The size of the gift and the cost thereof varied: One could, for example, give the other person five francs at a cost of two francs. Or give twenty francs at a cost of fifteen. While the study participants were making these decisions, the researchers measured activity in three brain areas: in the temporoparietal junction, where prosocial behavior and generosity are processed; in the ventral striatum, which is associated with happiness; and in the orbitofrontal cortex, where we weigh the pros and cons during decision-making processes. The participants were asked about their happiness before and after the experiment.

- SD

The interested student is invited back to the source article to pursue this further and the Rockhouse is satisfied this is probably seeded enough to pique your curiosity if such a thing is your purpose.

Ed:  and that makes you happy?



Anonymous said...

I would give a pass to Katy Perry. Although I don't know if she is a giver or not but I would assume so.
She has to spend large sums to be in an ultra exclusive resort. Otherwise she can't relax because if the number of people wanting to meet her or the large troupe she must have to keep pair away.
I am glad that I am not rich and famous. The price of peace and quiet must be ridiculous.
It sure isn't a stroll in your backyard unless you are Oprah. She has a phenomenal estate where she can relax

Peas InOurThyme said...

The shot doesn't have to be at Katy Perry but rather the ridiculous expense of what ostensibly makes her crowd happy since that only says to me the rest of their time they must not be happy too much. As you said, it would suck to be rich and famous and mostly because of all the creeps who would be hanging on you. It looks like they build a whole lot of gilded cages and it would be tragic if it weren't all so confused.