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Altruistic acts more common in states with high well-being
Date:1/29/2014

r capita donation rates tended to have higher levels of well-being. The positive link held when the researchers combined states into nine broader geographic regions, and also when they examined the data for a single year (2010).

Together, these findings suggest that well-being is not just linked to prosocial behaviors, like charitable giving, but may also promote genuine altruism.

Importantly, the link remained even after regional variation in several other factors such as household income, age, education, and mental and physical health were accounted for. And the link wasn't explained by specific cultural factors either, including regional levels of religiosity or collectivist attitudes.

The findings have clear implications for public health:

"Kidney disease is now the 8th leading cause of death in the US, and living kidney donations are the best hope for restoring people to health who have kidney disease," says Marsh. "Understanding the dynamics that lead to this kind of donation might help increase the numbers of donations, which currently are in decline."

And the findings may provide important insight for potential donors:

"You'd be amazed by the responses some donors get from those who learn about their donation people who see them as weird or even 'crazy' for doing something so far outside the norm as giving away an internal organ to a stranger," Marsh notes. "These data help to show that there are understandable, normal psychological mechanisms that lead to this kind of behavior, uncommon as it is."

The link between well-being and altruism may be particularly important in light of increased focus on policies that focus on societal level well-being, above and beyond economic well-being.

"Given that altruism itself promotes well-being, policies that promote well-being may help to generate a virtuous circle whereby increases in well-being promote altruism that, in turn, increases well-bei
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Contact: Anna Mikulak
amikulak@psychologicalscience.org
202-293-9300
Association for Psychological Science
Source:Eurekalert

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