Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Humans are happier when they do the right thing; It also helps them overcome difficulties

Date:
June 12, 2013
Source:
Springer Science+Business Media
Summary:
Communities that stick together and do good for others cope better with crises and are happier for it, according to a new study. Part of the reason for this greater resilience is the fact that humans are more than simply social beings, they are so-called 'pro-social' beings. In other words, they get happiness not just from doing things with others, but from doing things both with and for others.

Communities that stick together and do good for others cope better with crises and are happier for it.
Credit: Sergey Galushko / Fotolia

Communities that stick together and do good for others cope better with crises and are happier for it, according to a new study by John Helliwell, from the University of British Columbia in Canada, and colleagues. Their work suggests that part of the reason for this greater resilience is the fact that humans are more than simply social beings, they are so-called 'pro-social' beings. In other words, they get happiness not just from doing things with others, but from doing things both with and for others. The paper is published online in Springer's Journal of Happiness Studies.

How does the social fabric of a community or nation affect its capacity to deal with crises and to develop resources that maintain and improve people's happiness during those difficult times? "Communities and nations with better social capital, in other words, quality social networks and social norms as well as high levels of trust, respond to crises and economic transitions more happily and effectively," Helliwell and his team conclude.

Their paper begins with an assessment of social capital and happiness during the recent years of economic crisis in 255 US metropolitan areas. Overall, social capital has improved the nation's happiness during the period of economic crisis, both directly and indirectly by mitigating the impact of rising unemployment.

Helliwell and colleagues then take a broader perspective by examining national average happiness in OECD countries after the 2008 financial crisis. They group countries according to their levels of happiness:

The group with rising happiness includes countries less directly affected by the crisis, with policies well chosen to enhance the well-being of their residents -- as in South Korea, for example.

The group with falling happiness includes those countries worst hit by the original crisis, and by its subsequent spillovers in the Euro zone. In this group, social capital and other key supports for happiness were damaged during the crisis and its aftermath.

The study also digs deeper into the relative roles of social capital and income as determinants of happiness. Evidence from countries in economic transition demonstrates the power of social trust, i.e., the belief that generally speaking, most people can be trusted. Social trust is an indicator of the quality of a country's social capital, which increases happiness directly but also permits a softer landing in the face of external economic shocks..

The authors wrap up with a look at the power of human nature and the suggestion that the core goal of public policy should be to facilitate the development of institutions that bring out the best in humans -- a view articulated by Elinor Ostrom, an American political economist and the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in Economics.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Springer Science+Business Media. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. John F. Helliwell, Haifang Huang, Shun Wang. Social Capital and Well-Being in Times of Crisis. Journal of Happiness Studies, 2013; DOI: 10.1007/s10902-013-9441-z

Cite This Page:

Springer Science+Business Media. "Humans are happier when they do the right thing; It also helps them overcome difficulties." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 June 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130612133012.htm>.
Springer Science+Business Media. (2013, June 12). Humans are happier when they do the right thing; It also helps them overcome difficulties. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130612133012.htm
Springer Science+Business Media. "Humans are happier when they do the right thing; It also helps them overcome difficulties." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130612133012.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A new study shows sleep deprivation can make it harder for people to remember specific details of an event. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

Newsy (July 25, 2014) An online quiz from a required course at Ohio State is making waves for suggesting atheists are inherently smarter than Christians. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

AFP (July 24, 2014) A so-called drugs rehab 'clinic' is closed down in Pakistan after police find scores of ‘patients’ chained up alleging serial abuse. Duration 03:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins