Engaging in prosocial behavior linked to improved health and well-being

Research released by the American Psychological Association highlights how engaging in prosocial behavior could boost one’s physical health and well-being.

The study, publicized in Psychological Bulletin, included more than 190,000 participants from 201 separate studies, all of which assessed the association between prosocial behavior and well-being.

As explained in their findings, the co-authors showed that random acts of kindness were strongly linked to overall well-being compared to formal prosocial behavior. The participants who engaged in more prosocial behavior were considered to be happier and exhibited improved mental and physical health.

The effects associated with prosocial behavior differed by age group. For instance, among the younger participants, acts of kindness generally resulted in higher levels of eudaimonic well-being and psychological function. Meanwhile, older adults mostly experienced improved physical health.

“Women showed stronger relationships between prosociality and several measures of well-being compared with men—perhaps because women are stereotypically expected to be more caring and giving, and thus derive a stronger sense of good feelings for acting in accordance with those social norms,” a news release of the findings state.

“Future research should examine several other potentially important moderators that the research literature has largely ignored so far, the researchers suggest—for example, the potential effects of givers’ ethnicity and social class,” it also adds.

The study, led by Bryant P.H. Hui at the University of Hong Kong, was released online on September 3rd, 2020.

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