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What makes altruistic people so generous?
Plus, more evidence that birds are magical creatures
“When you train one side to use conversational receptiveness, the other side is a little more likely to actually move towards their perspective.” – psychologist Julia Minson
Doing good. What makes altruistic people so generous? What sets them apart from, well, the rest of us? To answer this question, researchers studied a group of extraordinarily altruistic people: kidney donors. They interviewed them and measured their beliefs about humanity using something called the Belief in Pure Good and Belief in Pure Evil scales. “We found for the first time a significant negative relationship between real-world acts of altruism for strangers and the belief that humans can be purely evil,” the researchers wrote. In other words, kidney donors were less likely than others to believe that humans are totally terrible. The researchers found this was true regardless of whether the donors believed in a higher power. The study concluded, “Findings suggest that highly altruistic individuals believe that others deserve help regardless of their potential moral shortcomings.”
For the birds. Birds are fascinating little creatures. Turns out, they also make us pretty happy. In a study, researchers found that being around birds improved people’s well-being, an effect that lasted up to eight hours. The study included over a thousand volunteers and took place between April 2018 and October 2021. Study volunteers used an app that checked in with them three times a day, asking whether they could see or hear birds. It also surveyed them on their mental well-being throughout the day. “Everyday encounters with birdlife were associated with time-lasting improvements in mental well-being,” the study concluded. “These improvements were evident not only in healthy people but also in those with a diagnosis of depression, the most common mental illness across the world.” We know that there are psychological benefits to being around nature, but it appears that being around birds, specifically, has an additional mood-boosting effect. Birds: there’s just something cheery about them.
A better way to worry. Anxiety is an uncomfortable emotion, which is why most of us try to avoid it. But maybe our anxiety is also trying to tell us something. Perhaps there’s a way to interpret those messages and manage the intense discomfort these feelings can generate. Listen to learn more.
ON THE HIDDEN BRAIN PODCAST: RELATIONSHIPS 2.0
Oct 31: In the coming weeks, we’ll be taking a deep dive into the theme of relationships. You probably have a relationship in your life that you'd like to improve. Maybe it's with your partner, or a parent, or a co-worker. Perhaps you can't figure out why certain relationships in your life seem to thrive, while others always go off the rails. We begin our series this week with a look at conflicts. For many of us, our first impulse when it comes to conflict is to ask, how can I shut it down? But increasingly, psychological research is taking a different approach to discord, with profound implications for disputes big and small. So what if we set aside the goal of eliminating conflict and instead ask, how can we do conflict … better?
ON THE MY UNSUNG HERO PODCAST
Nov 1: When Chewey Clinton tells his friend a closely guarded secret, his friend reacts in the best possible way.
Don’t forget to send us the story of your unsung hero! Record a voice memo on your phone and email it to email@example.com.
You have three bags, each containing two marbles. Bag A contains two white marbles, Bag B contains two black marbles, and Bag C contains one white marble and one black marble. You pick a random bag and take out one marble.
The marble is white.
What is the probability that the remaining marble from the same bag is also white?
LAST WEEK’S PUZZLE
A sundial is a timepiece that has the fewest number of moving parts. Which timepiece has the most moving parts?
The answer: An hourglass
FROM THE TWITTERATI…
A MOMENT OF JOY
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