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  • If you want to dig deeper into "the science of a meaningful life," check out these seminal studies of compassion, happiness, mindfulness, and the GGSC's other core themes.

  • Compassion Training Alters Altruism and Neural Responses to Suffering

    Weng, Y.H., et. al. (2013). Compassion Training Alters Altruism and Neural Responses to Suffering Psychological Science, E-pub

    Study shows results that suggest that compassion can be cultivated with training and that greater altruistic behavior may emerge from increased engagement of neural systems implicated in understanding the suffering of other people, executive and emotional control, and reward processing.

  • The Cognitive and Emotive Uses of Forgiveness in the Treatment of Anger

    Fitzgibbons, R. P. (1986). The cognitive and emotive uses of forgiveness in the treatment of anger. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training, Vol 23(4), 629-633.

  • Forgiveness: A Developmental View

    Enright, R.D., Gassin, E.A., Wu, C.R. (1992). Forgiveness: A Developmental View. Journal of Moral Education, 21(2), 99-114.

    Explores how people think about and go about forgiving others.

  • Latane, B., Darley, J.M. (1969). Bystander "Apathy." American Scientist, 57(2), 244-268.PDF

    Apathy, indifference, and unconcern are all inadequate to account for why we in 1964 failed to help Kitty Genovese when we knew she was being murdered. This article tells us exactly why we as bystanders won't always be quick to intervene.

  • Post, S.G. (2005). Altruism, Happiness, and Health: It's Good to be Good. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 12(2), 66-77.PDF

    This article suggests that there exists a positive correlation between altruistic (other-regarding) emotions and behaviors and mental and physical health. As long as we are not overwhelmed by helping tasks, our compassionate emotions and behaviors are associated with our well-being, happiness, health, and longevity.

  • The ase for mindfulness- based approaches in the cultivation of empathy: does nonjudgmental, presen

  • Ickes, W., Funder, D.C., & West, S.G. (1993). Empathic Accuracy. Journal of Personality, 61(4), 587-610.PDF

    A look at people's motivations to understand the psychological states of others and how those motivations influence the empathy felt toward that person.

  • Preston, S.D., & de Waal, F.B.M. (2001). Empathy: Its Ultimate and Proximate Bases Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 25, 1–72.PDF

    A model of empathy focusing on perception-action processes such as imitation, group alarm, and mother-infant responsiveness which drive the evolution of empathy.

  • The Relation of Empathy to Prosocial and Related Behaviors

    Eisenberg, N., & Miller, P. (1987). The Relation of Empathy to Prosocial and Related Behaviors. Psychological Bulletin, 101, 91–119.

    The relationship between empathy and prosocial behaviors, which are behaviors like helping and sharing done to assist others or the society as whole.

  • Stellar, J.E., Manzo, V.M., Kraus, M.W., Keltner, D. (2012). Class and Compassion: Socioeconomic Factors Predict Responses to Suffering. Emotion. 12(3), 449-459.PDF

    There's a new form of poverty for the lower-class, and it's negative emotions. But whereas lower-class individuals experience elevated negative emotions as compared with their upper-class counterparts, at least they feel and behave more compassionately--in other words, with concern for the suffering or well-being of others. This paper investigates the class disparity in dispositional compassion.

  • Killingsworth, M., & Gilbert, D. (2010). A Wandering Mind Is an Unhappy Mind. Science, 330 (6006), 932.PDF

    This study used a smartphone application to sample people's thoughts, feelings and actions at random times throughout the day. It found that people are least happy at times when their minds are not focused on the action they're performing in the present moment--and, unfortunately, their minds and actions are out of sync almost as often as they're in sync.

  • Parks, A.C. & Biswas-Diener, R. (in press). Positive Interventions: Past, Present and Future. To appear in T. Kashdan & Ciarrochi, J. (Eds.), Bridging Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Positive Psychology: A Practitioner’s Guide to a Unifying Framework. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger.PDF

    A discussion of positive intervention research, defining what it is, its effectiveness and application, and its possible future directions.

  • Easterlin, R., et al. (2010). The Happiness-Income Paradox Revisited. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107(52), 22463-22468.PDF

    A recent study on the Easterlin Paradox (the theory over the long-term happiness does not increase as a country's income rises) finds evidence that it is also true for a number of developing countries while responding to critiques of the paradox.

  • Wilson, T.D., & Gilbert, D.T. (2003). Affective Forecasting. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 35, 345-411.PDF

    Looks at people's tendency to base decisions on predictions about their emotional reactions to future events (otherwise known as affective forecasting), and examines the causes and implications of the phenomenon.

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    Exercise is not just important to keep the pounds off; it’s also good for the brain. This study suggests that small amounts of exercise in rodents can reverse illness-related memory problems. Researchers gave rats free access to a running wheel for six weeks. Afterwards, they tested the animals’ memories, and… #

  • Tough Guys Sacrifice More

    Tough guys are more self-sacrificing, this study suggests—and you can spot them by the shape of their face. While past research has linked wider male faces with anti-social tendencies such as cheating and exploitation, this study explored whether wide-faced men are also more willing to make sacrifices for the common… #

  • Mindfulness and Nature

    This study suggests that stargazers and tree huggers might be developing more then neck strain and splinters; in fact, connection to nature might provide some strong social and emotional benefits. The researchers asked 452 people how connected they felt to nature, and compared this with their social, emotional, and psychological… #

  • Does Religion Make You Healthier in Old Age?

    This study looked at how religion and spirituality relate to the social, psychological, and physical well-being of 143 people over 65. The results show that elderly people who report more frequent spiritual experiences show lower levels of anxiety, higher positive well-being, and more vitality. The researchers speculate that this might… #

  • The Angry Brain

    This study explored how the frontal lobes of our brain help us control aggression. Researchers observed activity in the frontal lobes of people who were provoked to anger by being insulted. They found that areas involved in negative emotions and arousal activated, but so did areas involved in the regulation… #

  • The Selfless Chimp

    We humans like to think that our humanity is defined by our kindness to others. But this study suggests we’re not the only animal with a propensity for altruism. Researchers developed a “pro-social choice” test in a lab, where they had female chimpanzees choose between two differently colored tokens. The… #

  • Are Religious People Happier?

    Are religious people happier than non-believers? Not necessarily, according to this study. Through an online dating site (eDarling), researchers collected data on roughly 188,000 adults across several countries. They found that religious people are better adjusted psychologically and more comfortable in social situations—but only when they live in a country… #

  • The Keys to Resilience

    Why do some people bounce back from adversity better than others? This study explored the key factors in resilience. Three hundred twenty-five adults from Mexico and Spain, ages 18 to 87, who had experienced a significant amount of adversity in their lives completed surveys measuring their life satisfaction. Researchers also… #

  • Why We Help Strangers

    If we only help others because we expect them to reciprocate, why would we help someone who we may never meet again, like when we assist a stranded motorist or hold a door open for a stranger? To address that question, this study ran computer simulations of tens of thousands… #

  • Are Two Heads Really Better Than One?

    This study suggests that collaborating with others on a project might actually weaken our reasoning and problem solving skills. Researchers assigned participants to work on a task individually or in pairs, then measured their confidence in their work, the accuracy of their answers, and their willingness to revise their judgments.… #

  • Does Heartbreak Really Hurt?

    It seems that a broken heart might hurt like a broken bone. This study suggests that sensations of physical and social pain involve the same regions of the brain. UCLA psychology professor Naomi Eisenberger reviewed over 20 experiments that examined the brain circuitry of people undergoing physical pain or the… #

  • Why Facebook Might Hurt People with Low Self-Esteem

    Facebook has been touted as a blessing for people who struggle to form face-to-face social connections, such as those who lack self-esteem and fear the judgments of others. There’s some logic to this: Facebook encourages people to reveal details about themselves, and research has found that this kind of “self-disclosure”… #

  • More than a Thank You Note: The Power of Gratitude Letters

    This study suggests that thanksgiving shouldn’t be reserved for a single holiday: There are strong psychological benefits to expressing thanks to people on a regular basis. Researchers divided 219 adults into two groups. Every week for four weeks, all of the adults reported their levels of gratitude, happiness, life satisfaction,… #

  • Nurturing Moms Are Better than Money

    Past research has shown that kids from low socioeconomic backgrounds are more likely to get sick and are more vulnerable to illness as adults. This study, however, suggests how mothers have the power to reduce some of these risks for their kids.

    The authors looked at more than 1,200 adults,… #

  • Does Music Make Us Smarter?

    This study explores how musical training can improve our verbal ability. Seventy-one children between the ages for four and six received either visual art or computer-based music training. In the music training, the children learned about rhythm, pitch, melody, voice, and basic musical concepts; in art, they learned about shape,… #

  • Reading Emotion Involves More than the Face

    While Paul Ekman and his disciples (including Greater Good’s Dacher Keltner) have pioneered the study of facial expressions, this study demonstrates that there’s more to emotion perception than just reading the face. After an extensive review of prior studies, the researchers identify three additional factors that influence how we recognize… #

  • Gilbert, P., McEwan, K., Matos, M., Rivis, A. (2011). Fears of Compassion: Development of Three Self-Report Measures. Psychology and Psychotherapy. 84(3), 239-255.PDF

    We can have compassionate feelings for others and from others, but we can also have compassion for ourselves--that is, as long as we're not fearful of it. This paper suggests the importance of of how and why some highly self-critical persons resist receiving compassion and what this means for therapeutic interventions.

  • Kindness Calculations

    Why do we sometimes go out of our way to help another person? To answer this question, researchers in this study broached new scientific territory: the science of door entry etiquette. Yes, they actually observed 148 people in the act of holding a door open for another person. They identified… #

  • Bad Mood, Good Deeds

    This study suggests that being in a bad mood might make you more altruistic—and being altruistic might make your mood improve. Every morning for three weeks, 68 employees at a technology company completed short surveys to measure their mood. Throughout the workday, they recorded whether they performed acts of altruism,… #

  • What Predicts Happiness?

    This study explored whether it’s possible to predict people’s happiness based on their personality, looking at both adolescents and older adults. The researchers gave surveys to 223 high school students and 134 adults, ages 54 to 90, measuring their happiness levels, self-esteem, loneliness, and general psychological health; they also assessed… #

  • The Key to Lasting Life Satisfaction

    Happy experiences make you happy and sad experiences make you sad, right? This study suggests it’s more complicated than that. Researchers asked 815 participants, ranging from 58 to 95 years of age, about their life story, particularly their “anchor” periods (i.e., the most emotionally significant points in life), as well… #

  • Is Love Best Expressed through a Touch or a Smile?

    Is love best expressed through a touch or a smile? This study suggests that the best way to convey an emotion depends on what type of emotion you’re trying to convey. Researchers asked participants to express a range of emotions to someone else using their face, body, or touch. Participants… #

  • How to Cope with Rejection

    No one ever likes being socially rejected—in fact, it can feel downright painful. But this study suggests the effects of rejection go beyond hurt feelings. Reviewing more than 20 prior studies, it found that social rejection can reduce performance on a challenging intellectual task, reduce impulse control, and increase aggression… #

  • Who Gets Forgiven?

    What makes someone more forgivable? This study asked 214 undergraduates to both recall a past relationship in which someone betrayed them and say how likely they were to avoid that person or seek revenge against them—typical signs of unforgiveness. The researchers also asked about the characteristics of the offender, trying… #

  • How Can We Become More Engaged at Work?

    Employees are more satisfied and productive in their jobs when they’re more engaged with their work—but how can employers promote worker engagement? This study offers some answers. Reviewing more than 30 prior studies, it found that if workers receive more social support from colleagues and supervisors, more performance feedback, and… #

  • Brief Meditation Produces Positive Brains

    Meditating for just 15 minutes a day can produce substantial improvements in brain activity, according to this study. Eleven people participated in a five-week meditation training program, where they practiced focusing their attention on their breathing and cultivating awareness of their fleeting thoughts before promptly letting them go. After the… #

  • Does Being Drunk, Powerful, and in the Dark Make You Do Good—or Evil?

    This study examines how power, alcohol, and anonymity can have strong influences on our behavior, for better or for worse. Why do they lead some people to act more kindly, even heroically, while others display more aggression and hostility? Reviewing a range of research, this study’s authors find that all… #

  • How Depression Reduces Empathy

    This study suggests that depression can reduce feelings of empathy for one’s partner in a relationship. Researchers looked at 55 couples who had been living together for a minimum of six months. First, the researchers assessed each partner’s levels of depression, they then videotaped the couples taking turns asking each… #

  • Are Toddlers Capable of Empathy?

    Are 18-month-olds able to put themselves in someone else’s shoes? A recent study suggests that they can, to some extent. Thirty-six 18-month-olds were blindfolded, but in some cases, they could actually see through the blindfold. After the blindfold was removed, they watched an actor look for an object behind one… #

  • Meditation Makes Brains Quicker

    This study adds to the evidence that meditation can produce real, physical benefits in brain function. People between the ages of 25 and 71, with five to 46 years of experience in various styles of meditation, were matched with non-meditators of a similar age and educational level. All participants were… #

  • Is Racism a Zero-Sum Game?

    Do white Americans now face more discrimination than African Americans? This study suggests that whites think racism against African Americans has declined significantly—at their expense. Researchers asked black and white Americans to indicate how much discrimination blacks and whites faced in each decade from the 1950s to the 2000s. Both… #

  • Where the Brain Feels Empathy

    This study investigated the neural basis of empathy. To do this, it studied the brain pathways of a woman born without limbs as she observed the actions and pain responses of other people. The researchers found that sensory-motor areas of her brain were active when she watched the people perform… #

  • Does Happiness Come from Our Genes or Environment?

    Though we all experience our fair share of emotional ups and downs, research suggests that people tend to return to a relatively stable “set point” of well-being—the basic level of happiness they maintain day in and day out. But different people have different set points. How are these levels determined?… #

  • Losing Your Train of Thought Could Be a Good Thing

    What enables some people to let go of negative thoughts while others become fixated on the negative, sometimes spiraling into depression? This study suggests that “cognitive flexibility”—the ability to monitor and control our thoughts—may be a crucial factor. Researchers gave participants a computerized task that required them to manipulate the… #

  • How Our Parents Affect Our Romantic Relationships

    This study suggests that the connection we form with our parents as infants may determine how we resolve conflicts with our romantic partner as an adult. Researchers measured how securely attached infants were to their parents at 12 and 18 months of age, meaning how much they related to their… #

  • Does Physical Activity Equal Political Activity?

    With the next presidential election already looming, how can we encourage more people to become politically active? This study finds that the more active people are in general, the more active they’ll be in politics. Surveying individuals in 69 countries and 49 states in the U.S., researchers measured how impulsive… #

  • Global Consensus: Money Doesn’t Bring Happiness

    This comprehensive study suggests that over time, happiness does not increase as a country’s income increases. Researchers looked at the relationship between happiness and gross domestic product, both across time (10 years) and across cultures, examining people in 37 countries across five continents. They found that there is no significant… #

  • How Mindfulness Helps Our Brains Focus

    Mindfulness meditation involves focusing attention on our thoughts, breathing, and bodily sensations. This study suggests how it can also help us tune out unwanted distractions. After non-meditators went through an eight-week mindfulness meditation training, researches looked at their brain activity, comparing it with their brain activity before the training and… #

  • Meditation Gets Your Mind in Touch with Your Body

    Dancers are assumed to be in touch with their bodies, but this study suggests meditators may have them beat. Experienced Vipassana meditators were compared with either active modern or ballet dancers, along with participants who didn’t have training in any of these techniques. All participants watched emotional film clips while… #

  • Are We More Moral Than We Think?

    This study suggests that people behave more ethically than they expect. Researchers presented one group of participants with a math test in which they had the opportunity to cheat; participants in another group were asked to predict whether or not they would cheat under the same circumstances. The results show… #

  • Why Staying Positive Can be Good for Your Health

    A growing body of research indicates that positive emotions can help us stay healthy later in life; this study examines how. The results suggest that staying positive can lead us to practice healthy behaviors, such as a good diet, regular exercise, and getting sufficient sleep. Positive emotions may also reduce… #

  • What “I Love You” Really Means

    This study found that, contrary to expectations, it is men who typically confess love in a relationship first and feel happier when it is confessed. The authors suggest that the timing of the confession plays a crucial role in how men and women react to the phrase “I love you”:… #

  • Men Become More Helpful as They Age

    Studies have repeatedly shown that women provide more assistance to family and friends than do men. Yet this study found that the gender gap narrows later in life. Looking at more than 5,000 men and women in their 50s and 60s, the researchers found that women were more likely to… #

  • The Benefits of Bringing Work Home

    We are always told to leave work at the office. Yet this study offers an important caveat. Researchers examined how satisfied people were with their jobs, recording the number and intensity of positive events at work and their impact on employees’ job satisfaction and overall happiness. The results show that… #

  • Why the World’s Poor are Happier than You Think

    Why do people in poorer countries report greater happiness than people in many of the world’s wealthier nations? This study provides an intriguing answer. Drawing on data from a survey administered around the world, researchers found that people’s satisfaction with their country can overflow into their personal life satisfaction and… #

  • Is Touch the Language of Romance?

    This study suggests that romantic partners—more so than strangers—can effectively communicate emotions to each other simply through the act of touch. Thirty couples were seated at opposite sides of a table with a curtain between them so they couldn’t see each other. One member of each couple was instructed to… #

  • Fear of Being Envied Makes People Help Others

    This study suggests that being the object of envy may actually motivate us to be kind to others. Participants completed a test and were told that a partner (who was actually working with the researchers) completed the same test and received the same final score. The participants received a financial… #

  • Why Do Bullies Bully?

    This study helps to answer the question: What can we do to promote compassion and prevent bullying among children? Researchers classified 719 nine to thirteen year olds into three groups, based on surveys of the kids’ peers: bullies (those who hit, push, or tease others), victims (those who get hit,… #

  • How the Arts Affect Social Stigmas

    Researchers from the United Kingdom found that the creative arts have a powerful influence over our attitudes toward people with mental illness. During a national mental health arts festival, 415 people learned about mental illness through films, plays, and discussions of literature. Afterwards, they were asked to fill out a… #

  • The Roots of Shyness and Anxiety

    This study looked at how a person’s personality and family environment contribute to the development of shyness and anxiety later in life. Researchers collected information on children’s personalities, home environment, and anxiety symptoms from 121 pairs of three-year-old twins. They then collected the same information from the kids at age… #

  • Two Degrees of Separation Can Still Reduce Prejudice against Muslims

    Surveys suggest that there has been a considerable rise in prejudice against Muslims around the world since September 11. How can relationships between Muslims and non-Muslims be improved? In this study, non-Muslim participants from a London University were asked about the frequency and quality of their contact with Muslims. People… #

  • When it Comes to Relationships, Reality Might Be Overrated

    When it comes to your relationship, it seems that reality might be overrated. In this study, researchers mailed surveys to 84 couples, asking each participant to answer questions about their personality, their partner’s personality, and their relationship quality. Researchers found that more agreeable and conscientious men and more extroverted women… #

  • Managers with Empathy Might Improve Employee Health

    Feeling sick at work? Maybe you need a more empathic manager. This study followed 60 employees at an IT company over two weeks, finding that employees were less likely to report feeling sick if they had a manager with a strong inclination to take an employee’s perspective and feel what… #

  • How Well Do We Predict Our Happiness?

    How capable are we at predicting our own future happiness? Not very, according to this study. One experiment found that students did a poor job of predicting how happy they’d be after receiving a grade higher, lower, or similar to what they expected to receive in a class. When making… #

  • Do Kids in Childcare Act Our More?

    Do children in childcare act out more than other kids? Researchers, politicians, and others have debated this question for years. This study, which looked at 349 children in childcare from low-income families, suggests that the answer depends on the quality of the care they receive. In high-quality childcare, the setting… #

  • Why Kids Trust

    Children are much more willing to believe what they are told than adults. This study examined whether that’s because kids are more trusting in general or because they’re particularly prone to trust things that people say to them directly. Three-year-olds either heard an experimenter claim that a sticker was in… #

  • Why It’s OK to Put Your Spouse on a Pedestal

    Is your spouse just the best? This study examined whether putting your romantic partner on a pedestal helps or hinders marital satisfaction. The researchers asked both partners in 222 newlywed couples to describe themselves, their partners, and their hopes for an ideal partner, and they asked them how satisfied they… #

  • A Program that Helps At-Risk Kids—and Their Parents

    This study suggests how it can be possible to improve at-risk kids’ well-being, particularly those at risk for neglect, by focusing on their family relationships and teaching important parenting skills. In the study, 111 children and their families participated in Family Connections, a program that works with families in low-income,… #

  • Mindfulness: As Good as Antidepressants?

    Antidepressant medication is the standard treatment for patients diagnosed with depression. But this study suggests that being mindful of our thinking patterns is just as effective. Participants in remission from depression after eight months of taking antidepressants were split into three groups: They either continued taking antidepressants, participated in a… #

  • A Good Story Can Be Good for Your Health

    Listening to a good story can lift your spirits—and it can also lower your blood pressure, according to this study. Two-hundred thirty African Americans suffering from hypertension were split equally into two groups. Members of one group viewed a video of members of their own race narrating stories about their… #

  • When School and Home Collide for Kids

    This study examined “home-school dissonance,” which is when the values, beliefs, and practices in a child’s home contrast with those in their school—for instance, when a student’s school encourages her to consider attending college after high school, while her family encourages her to look for a full-time job. African-American high… #

  • More on the Benefits of Self-Compassion

    This study builds on what we know about the relatively new psychological concept of “self-compassion,” the act of accepting our flaws and extending kindness toward ourselves during difficult times. The authors found that people with higher rates of self-compassion also reported fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression, and reported higher… #

  • What’s an Apology Really Worth?

    This study suggests apologies often aren’t as powerful as we think they’ll be. Participants played a computer game in which an unknown opponent betrayed them. Afterward, they received an apology from the opponent or were asked to imagine receiving an apology from him. In both cases, they then rated how… #

  • How Long Do Exercise Benefits Last?

    We know that exercise is good for our mental and physical health, but how long does it take for these benefits to wear off? In this study, mice who had exercised for three weeks were trained to find their way through a maze; the training took place either immediately after… #

  • Why You Should Know Your Partner’s Long-Term Goals

    This study suggests that knowing your romantic partner’s long-term goals for life will make your relationship more satisfying over time. Each partner in a relationship reported their own personal goals and the goals they believed their partner held; they also took a survey measuring their relationship satisfaction and feelings of… #

  • Sleep Deprivation Leaves You Emotionally Isolated

    Sleep deprivation really can make us look like zombies: This study suggests that getting less sleep hinders our ability to convey emotions through our facial expressions. Study participants got either a full night of sleep (9-10 hours) or no sleep at all. Within the next few days, they were shown… #

  • The Academic Success of Immigrant Students

    This study zeroed in on the factors linked to the academic success of students who immigrate to the United States. It followed students who had recently immigrated from Central America, China, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, or Mexico, tracking their progress over five years. Not surprisingly, it found that new immigrants… #

  • How Compassion Protects Us from Stress

    This study suggests that having compassion for others may actually protect us from stress. Fifty-nine study participants took an online questionnaire that measured their levels of compassion. Then these people had to complete a series of stressful tasks while someone else evaluated them; that evaluator either offered supportive, positive feedback… #

  • Community Ties Help Low-Income Children’s Health

    Past research has indicated that having a low socioeconomic status harms one’s health, but this study suggests that strong community ties can curb these negative effects. The researchers examined 196 adolescents from low-income and more affluent backgrounds, measuring smoking rates and body-mass index (BMI), an indicator of obesity. They also… #

  • Your Brain on Laughter

    Humans have lots of different laughs: One laugh may reflect amusement, another may signal nervousness. According to this study, different types of laughs are reflected in different types of brain activity. Participants had their brains scanned while listening to laughs that conveyed tickling, taunting, or joy; the researchers classify the… #

  • How to Compliment Your Spouse

    Receiving a compliment is usually a good thing. However, not all affirmations are created equal. This study compared how one’s satisfaction with a romantic relationship is affected by “intrinsic” affirmations—which compliment inner, stable characteristics, such as one’s supportive nature—versus “extrinsic” affirmations, which compliment more external, temporary characteristics, such as one’s… #

  • When Do Siblings Make Up?

    Anyone who’s ever had kids—or a brother or sister—knows that sibling conflicts can seem endless. But this study offers some insight into when siblings are more likely to make up. It examined conflicts between children 6 to 8 years old and their sibling. Each sibling narrated a recurring conflict, including… #

  • Do Bullies have Empathy?

    Common sense suggests that bullies have low empathy. This study backs up that assumption—sort of. The authors found that among 205 sixth graders in Cyprus, bullies did show lower levels of “affective empathy,” which refers to the ability to experience others’ feelings as though they were your own. However, they… #

  • Dads Matter, Too

    Research has shown that the amount of nurturance, support, and affection a mother gives her child affects that child’s overall mental health as an adult. This study builds on that research by bringing dads into the equation. Adults rated the quality of their relationship with their mother and father during… #

  • Losing Sleep Over Regrets

    Researchers at the University of Geneva have concluded that rash behavior and “counterfactual thinking”—which means feeling emotions such as guilt, shame, and regret—contribute to insomnia. The study examined a group of 101 undergraduate students who were asked to complete questionnaires assessing their impulsive behavior, counterfactual thinking, and insomnia. The study… #

  • Can Yoga Improve Quality of Life During Cancer Treatment?

    How can levels of anxiety and stress be reduced in breast cancer patients? Yoga might be an answer. A group of Turkish researchers have demonstrated that providing women who are undergoing breast cancer treatment with yoga classes can improve their quality of life and reduce stress. Twenty women undergoing breast… #

  • We See What We Believe

    Want to see better? The key may lie in your mind, not your eyes: This study suggests that psychological beliefs can improve vision. In a collaborative study between four universities, researchers found that participants’ mindsets could actually make them see better. For instance, after they were told that athletes see… #

  • Is Empathy on the Decline?

    In his Tucson memorial speech, President Obama called on us to “sharpen our instincts for empathy.” This study suggests young adults may have a lot of work to do: It finds that empathy is declining sharply among college students today. The authors examined the responses of nearly 14,000 students who… #

  • When the “Cuddle Hormone” Isn’t So Cuddly

    Oxytocin is known as the “cuddle hormone,” but this study links it to behaviors that aren’t so cuddly: prejudice and ethnocentrism. The researchers found that when Dutch students were given oxytocin, they were more likely to favor Dutch people or things associated with the Dutch than when they had taken… #

  • Does Religion Make Us Happier and Healthier?

    Prior research has shown that individuals who report being religious, regardless of denomination, also report higher levels of happiness and well-being. This study adds to that research, finding that even after controlling for work and family status, individuals who say they’re religious report improved health and happiness. The findings contribute… #

  • Can Age Help You Stick to Your Diet?

    Age may bring wisdom, but it may also help you stick to a low-calorie diet. Comparing women across the lifespan, the authors of this study found that older women were better able to regulate their behavior and reported more success at bouncing back when faced with failures and setbacks. The… #

  • Dye Your Hair to Live Longer

    Feeling old? The reason may have more to do with your environment and your perceptions than your genes. This study, by researchers at Harvard and MIT, suggests that environmental cues play a significant role in determining how old—and how healthy—we feel. The researchers explored five different settings or circumstances that… #

  • How Governments Can Make Us Happy

    This study examined data from 127 nations to see how the average happiness of their citizens related to the quality of their governments. The author draws on the World Bank’s definition of “Good Governance,” which includes six qualities: governmental accountability, political stability and absence of violence, effectiveness of government, regulatory… #

  • Reduce Prejudice? Yes, You Can

    This study suggests that a belief in one’s ability to effect change is vital to getting them to take action against prejudice. In the study, white university students had to write an anonymous letter to the university administration expressing the need for more racial diversity on the faculty; before writing,… #

  • Why to Take Your New Year’s Resolutions Seriously

    A reason to take your New Year’s resolutions seriously: This study found that people who set goals for personal growth actually showed increases in psychological well-being, regardless of whether those goals were actually achieved. Researchers asked college freshman to write about two of their major goals, then revisited those same… #

  • A Positive Mood Boosts Creativity

    Could 30 Rock help you perform better at work? This study found that people are better at creative problem solving when they’re in a good mood than when they’re in a bad mood or just feeling so-so. In the study, participants were first put in a good mood by listening… #

  • Happy Meals Make Happy Kids?

    Data from a nationwide survey in Taiwan suggests that children who consume more fast food and soft drinks are (not surprisingly) more likely to be overweight; however, they’re also less likely to be unhappy. The researchers looked at factors driving fast food consumption. As a mother’s consumption of fast food… #

  • When Do We Forgive?

    It can be challenging, but the ability to forgive is essential to maintaining and repairing relationships. So why do some people choose to forgive and others plan for revenge? Researchers found that a person is more likely to forgive when they see a relationship as higher in quality, when they… #

  • Mindfulness Protects Cancer Patients from Stress

    This study taught mindfulness meditation skills to people with varying cancer diagnoses. Participants learned skills in observing and describing their thoughts and emotions. They also learned to accept the presence of these experiences without reacting to or judging these experiences as either good or bad. Researchers measured their psychological well-being… #

  • Social Sports are Good for Your Mental Health

    Physical activity and social connections are both known to be good for your physical health. This study examined their connection to mental health as well, focusing on the structured physical activity that takes place in Australian club sports—in this case, tennis and netball (a similar sport to basketball) clubs. The… #

  • Gratitude Strengthens Relationships

    This study shows that expressing gratitude to a close friend or romantic partner strengthens your sense of connection to them. After researchers had participants express gratitude toward someone close to them, the participants felt closer to the other person and more responsible for their well being. In another experiment, the… #

  • Positivity Trumps Negativity

    Research has found that when you experience positive emotions or think about positive things in your life, you are more likely to judge your life as meaningful. This study is the first to examine whether negative stimuli, such as feelings of loneliness, can also influence your view on whether your… #

  • Positive Workplaces, Positive Families

    With more women in the workforce and more dual income families than ever before, the pressure to maintain work-family balance is especially high today. This study offers new evidence for the importance of getting this balance right: The benefits of a good day at work are actually felt at home,… #

  • Stress Protection

    This study investigated whether positive well-being—including qualities such as self-acceptance, autonomy, purpose in life, positive relationships with others, and personal growth—helps people remain in good psychological health. The researchers found that individuals who reported low positive well-being were twice as likely to develop depression 10 years later than those who… #

  • The Key to Positive Interracial Interactions

    This study examined what factors contribute to more positive interracial interactions—an important topic, given the increasing diversity of the United States. It found that people who are more internally motivated to respond to interracial interactions without prejudice—that is, people who deeply believe that all individuals are equal—tend to act in… #

  • How Do You Really Feel about Your Partner?

    How do we know when a relationship has gone bad? This can be tough to recognize because romantic love often blinds us to reality. Indeed, this study shows that subconscious feelings reveal relationship dissatisfaction more reliably than people’s own reports about how they feel toward their partner. In word association… #

  • Why Some Babies Are Calmer than Others

    Infants express fear and anger from the time they’re just a few months old, but this study suggests how those types of distress can be moderated. Researchers analyzed 143 mothers and their infants when those babies were four, eight, 12, and 16 months. Mothers rated their infants’ temperament, which showed… #

  • Does Happiness Make Us Selfish?

    What makes a person more likely to share with others? In this study, researchers gave participants 10 raffle tickets and asked them to decide how many tickets to keep for themselves and how many to give to someone else. The more tickets they kept for themselves, the more likely they… #

  • Why You Should Try to See Yourself as Resilient

    Psychologists define “resilience” as the ability to bounce back from stress, protecting us from its negative health effects. The results of this study suggest that the mere belief that one is resilient leads to less negative emotion and more positive emotion, less physical symptoms of illness, and less perceived stress.… #

  • How to Recover from Being Wronged

    After someone hurts or offends us, research shows, how we think about that event can make things worse: Persistent negative thinking, known as rumination, can increase negative emotions, raise blood pressure, and worsen depression. But this study offers more positive alternatives. Researchers had participants ruminate about an incident in which… #

  • Why a Happy Marriage Matters in Old Age

    What role does love have on health? 47 heterosexual couples, all with women over 60 years old and men over 80 years old, were surveyed each evening over the course of an eight-day period, reporting their marital satisfaction, time spent with others, and perceived happiness. The results suggest that more… #

  • Even Brief Mindfulness Training Brings Benefits

    Research has shown that long-term meditation practice promotes positive, lasting changes in people’s mood, immune systems, and ability to regulate their emotions. This study found that people who for the first time receive a brief training in mindfulness—a meditative, moment-by-moment awareness of thoughts and surroundings—enjoy some of the same cognitive… #

  • Imagine Your ‘Best Possible Self’

    This study asked participants to think for one minute about their “best possible self” in the future—to imagine that everything has gone as well for them as it possibly could. Alternatively, other participants were asked to think about a typical day in their life for one minute. Then participants in… #

  • The Latest on Money and Happiness

    Does money really make people happier? In this study, authors investigated the relationship between happiness and higher income. Results showed that having luxury items, owning things that make life more convenient (e.g., a car, dishwasher, etc.), and being satisfied with your standard of living are linked to higher levels of… #

  • Why Some Kids Are More Resilient against Depression

    This study followed children of mothers with depression, hoping to identify “resilient” children—those who did not develop depression, even though they were at genetic risk for it—and learn more about what helped these children to remain in good psychological health. The researchers found two factors that made these children less… #

  • The Keys to a Good Night’s Sleep

    Researchers have long known that the amount and quality of people’s sleep declines as they get older, and this is particularly true among women. But little has been done to determine what, if anything, causes these declines—until now. This study surveyed more than 100 women, ages 55 or older, over… #

  • Why Some Child Soldiers Don’t Develop PTSD

    What protects people who experience a traumatic event against developing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)? To help answer this question, researchers interviewed former Ugandan child soldiers—a group affected by repeated exposure to wartime traumas—to learn more about the children who did not show signs of PTSD. They found that children… #

  • How Doctors Can Help You Lose Weight

    More than 60 percent of Americans are overweight or obese. While some doctors may simply recommend exercise and diet, this study suggests that how doctors communicate with their patients about weight loss can have a big effect. Researchers recorded interactions between 40 primary care physicians and 461 overweight or obese… #

  • How to Start Addressing Achievement Gaps

    Past studies have shown that economically disadvantaged children enter school with less developed cognitive skills, receive lower test scores, take lower level course work, and ultimately obtain fewer high school and college degrees. In this study, the authors trace such disparities to the limitations of growing up in a low-income… #

  • Even Moderate Exercise Helps Your Brain

    This study suggests that even moderate levels of exercise can improve your cognitive abilities and brain functioning. It involved 65 adults, ages 59 to 80, who before the study participated in only minimal physical activity. Over the course of a year, they joined either a walking group or a stretching… #

  • How to Quit Smoking

    Try not to think about a white elephant—now that’s all you can think about, right? Research has shown that trying to block something from our thoughts only increases the likelihood that we’ll think about it in the future. This study took that concept one step further and found that people… #

  • How to Combat Loneliness

    What’s the best way to deal with loneliness? This is no small question: a growing body of research is linking loneliness to physical and mental health problems such as weaker immune systems, heart trouble, lack of sleep, elevated blood pressure, increased cynicism and sadness, and lower self-esteem and cognitive abilities.… #

  • TV and Toddlers

    This study offers support for many of the suspicions surrounding children’s exposure to TV. Child experts analyzed data on 1,314 kids whose parents reported the amount of TV those children watched at 29 and 53 months of age; when these children were 10 years old, the researchers collected data on… #

  • How to Fight with Your Spouse

    Relationships guru John Gottman has identified three healthy styles of conflict between partners: “avoidant” (partners try to minimize or avoid conflict), “validating” (partners try to make each other feel understood and appreciated), and “volatile” (partners don’t shy away from passionate arguments); he has also singled out an… #

  • Are Women More Empathic than Men?

    Are women better than men at feeling and understanding others’ emotions? This study compared the brains of men and women as they performed three empathy tasks: emotion recognition (recognizing emotions based on facial expressions), perspective taking (understanding how others perceive an issue), and affective responsiveness (the ability to respond to… #

  • Who Confronts Prejudice?

    Even people who oppose racism and prejudice sometimes fail to speak up when they hear a prejudiced remark. Why? This study traced the answer to a subtle but important factor: whether they believe people’s personalities can change. Researchers exposed undergraduate students to someone making a prejudiced remark and observed their… #

  • Reducing Stereotyping

    Research suggests that when we observe some type of negative behavior performed by someone of a different racial, ethnic, or other group, we tend to attribute that behavior to an inner quality of that person rather than the details of the situation. In this study, researchers trained 72 white undergraduates… #

  • High Attendance Causes High Achievement

    Past research—and conventional wisdom—has suggested a link between school attendance and academic achievement. But does good attendance cause kids to do well in school, or are high-achievers just more likely to have high attendance? This study analyzed data from all elementary and middle schools in the Philadelphia School District, covering… #

  • The Limits of the “Love Hormone”

    Oxytocin, aka “the love hormone,” has become a topic of scientific fascination for its ability to induce trusting and generous behavior, even when delivered through a simple nasal spray. But some have wondered whether unscrupulous politicians, used car salesmen, or others could exploit oxytocin’s powers. This study should assuage some… #

  • Compassion vs. Pride

    When researchers (including Greater Good Science Center Faculty Director Dacher Keltner) measured participants’ levels of compassion and pride, they found that those rated as compassionate felt they had more in common with individuals described as “weak” or “vulnerable” whereas those deemed proud felt they had more in common with individuals… #

  • How Meditation Helps Us Pull Ourselves Together

    People who meditate often say the practice helps them feel more self-possessed. Researchers tested that idea by examining whether people’s unconscious self-esteem (how they think about themselves spontaneously and automatically) and conscious self-esteem, which is deliberate and reflective self-evaluation, become more aligned after meditation. Meditation did cause levels of those… #

  • The Upside of Caregiving

    Caring for an ill or elderly loved one can take a serious toll on our health, studies have shown. Yet helping others is generally good for health (and happiness). In a step toward reconciling this contradiction, this study found that certain kinds of caregiving can actually be good for the… #

  • “Green” Exercise Improves Mental Health

    Get off the treadmill: This study suggests that exercising in nature gives a quick and significant boost to your mental health. Researchers analyzed 10 British studies encompassing a total of more than 1,200 participants involved in outdoor activities such as cycling, walking, horseback riding, and fishing. They found that “green”… #

  • Increasing Optimism Leads to Improved Health

    In this study, researchers measured law students’ optimistic expectancies (how much they believed that they would do well and succeed in law school) five times over two semesters; they also measured the students’ immune system function. Though the most optimistic students didn’t necessarily have the strongest immune function, changes in… #

  • The Benefits of “Self-Compassion”

    Recent research has explored the concept of “self-compassion,” which involves forgiving yourself for mistakes, accepting your flaws, and recognizing that everyone has negative experiences just as you do. In this study, 271 college students completed surveys that measured their levels of self-compassion. People who had any of six features of… #

  • Why Danes are Happier than Americans

    Denmark consistently ranks as the happiest nation on Earth, and this study explored why. The researchers, including leading happiness researchers Ed Diener and Robert Biswas-Diener, compared surveys of Danes with surveys of people in the richest nation on Earth, the United States. They found that while Danes reported more overall… #

  • Isolation and Stigmatization

    This study examined how being stigmatized can lead to psychological distress, and uncovered factors that may help people deal with this kind of discrimination. Lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) people who experienced stigma reported more isolation and less social support compared with African Americans, and the researchers found that being… #

  • Why Are You Smiling at Me?

    Participants observed a succession of genuine and fake smiles, and rated the facial expressions as positive or negative. The researchers found that the participants instinctively recognized the difference between the two smile types. They were more likely to cooperate with those perceived to have genuine smiles and rated their expressions… #

  • Do Our Brains Crave Equality?

    It seems our brains are offended by inequality. Neuroscience researchers gave money either to a study participant or to someone else, observing the participant’s brain response. Brain activity in the areas associated with rewards increased more when participants believed money transfers were promoting equality than when they believed transfers were… #

  • Does Religion Serve Public Health?

    Religion helps give some people’s lives meaning, direction, and purpose. But can it help them stop smoking? The researchers investigated the influence of religion and religious leaders on smoking habits among Malaysian Muslims and Thai Buddhists. Although the majority of both groups felt that religion guided their day-to-day behavior and… #

  • Meditation Improves Concentration

    At a time when technology constantly tempts us with distractions, this study offers some of the most compelling evidence to date that meditation can improve our skills of attention. Participants engaged in a rigorous meditation practice (five hours/day for three months) that had them focus their attention on a single… #

  • Relationships Reduce Substance Abuse

    Is young love the anti-drug? Researchers found that over the first two years after high school, young adults who were in a romantic relationship engaged in less heavy drinking and marijuana use than their single counterparts. This was true regardless of whether those surveyed were married, living together, or just… #

  • Two Kinds of Empathy

    When we experience empathy, we might be thinking about how someone else is feeling, or experiencing what they are feeling ourselves. Is this a superficial distinction, or is it really reflected at the neural level? Researchers explored whether these two kinds of empathy involve different areas of the brain. They… #

  • Racism Hurts Academic Performance

    This study offers evidence that experiencing racism harms minority students’ academic performance. Students were shown the names of colors, but the names were printed in ink of a color different from the color they actually named (e.g., “red” printed in blue ink). The students were tested on how quickly they… #

  • Why You Don’t Always Need to Feel Your Partner’s Pain

    We might think we should be so closely tied to our spouses that we feel their pain: When they’re stressed, we’re stressed; when they’re calm, we’re calm. But it turns out that more happily married couples have stress levels that are less tightly synchronized with one another, and this may… #

  • Dulling the Pain of Exclusion

    Ostracism is a common social experience that has powerful effects on our sense of belonging, control, and self-esteem. So how do we keep its negative effects from lingering afterward? In the first study of its kind, researchers found that ostracized people not only suffer while they’re being excluded; they continue… #

  • Does TV Really Impair Kids’ Attention?

    In this study, researchers found that moderate amounts of television viewing among young children (ages one and three) was not associated with later attention problems at age seven, despite previous reports to the contrary. Television viewing was only a problem among children who watched over seven hours of television per… #

  • Optimism and College Retention

    When optimists set goals, they tend to imagine positive outcomes, persist until achieving their goals, and actively manage their sources of stress. Not surprisingly, then, this study found that optimistic college students were less likely to drop out of college than pessimists because they were more motivated and less distressed… #

  • How to Promote Emotional Well-Being after a Brain Injury

    The stress of a brain injury can lead to emotional difficulties. However, this study found that having self-esteem, family support, and financial stability predicted emotional health during recovery. Emotional well-being shortly after the injury was most important in predicting long-term well-being, suggesting the importance of interventions and family support immediately… #

  • Social Support and Caregiver Burdern in Taiwan

    Researchers asked people in Taiwan who were caring for an ill or incapable family member about their family circumstances and how it affected their stress levels and experiences of caregiving. Caring for ill or incapable family members was most burdensome when caregivers had more dysfunctional families and lower levels of… #

  • Why We Don’t Empathize with Everyone

    Are we less likely to feel another person’s pain when we think he somehow deserves to suffer? In this study, researchers observed the brain activity of participants watching videos of people in pain. The participants were told that some of these people had contracted HIV/AIDS due to IV drug use,… #

  • TV Racism Equals Real World Racism

    Can TV subconsciously induce racism? Researchers studied how viewers were affected by nonverbal behavior on 11 popular television shows, such as CSI: Miami. Characters on these shows displayed more negative nonverbal behavior toward African-American characters than toward white characters. Exposure to pro-white nonverbal behavior increased racial bias among viewers, as… #

  • How Our Brains Process Rewards

    People tend to differ on how excited they are about rewards. In this study, researchers sought to understand if these differences could be measured in the brain. They discovered that people who say they like rewards (they tend to seek out fun, exciting experiences) responded to rewards with higher activation… #

  • Overcoming Insecure Attachments

    It’s often assumed that how securely attached we felt to our parents will influence how secure we feel in our later relationships. However, this study found that our attachment to our spouse, not our parents, better predicts our emotional reactions to our spouse. So, even if you had an insecure… #

  • How to Handle Our Emotions

    In a study of college students in Norway, Australia, and America, researchers studied two emotion regulation strategies: cognitive reappraisal (thinking about something else when feeling negative) and suppression (avoiding expressing emotions). They found that those who suppressed their emotions were more likely to experience depressive symptoms, lower life satisfaction, and… #

  • Different Positive Emotions Inspire Different Behavior

    This study found that different positive emotions motivate us to act in different ways. Elevation—the “warm glow” feeling we get in response to witnessing acts of moral excellence that do not benefit oneself—leads us to want to emulate that moral person and help others. On the other hand, admiring someone—the… #

  • How to Support Your Partner

    In this study, participants who told their romantic partner about a negative event that happened that day and received “responsive” support—meaning that they felt their partner understood them, valued their abilities and opinions, and made them feel cared for—felt less sadness and anxiety and reported more relationship satisfaction than participants… #

  • How to Promote Healthy Choices

    How can we encourage people to make changes in their lives that promote better health? The authors of this study tested the effects of different kinds of health messages on undergraduate students. They found that challenging messages, which urge a particular course of action, persuaded people to undertake positive change… #

  • Communication Helps Bridge Achievement Gaps

    During a student’s transition from middle school to high school, does communication between their parents and schools really have any effect on their well-being? Researchers found that when parents communicate with both middle and high school staff, and the staff between the two schools communicate with each other, middle school… #

  • Why We Lie

    Researchers conducted experiments to determine the conditions under which people lie to financially help or hurt others. The results showed that financial self-interest cannot fully explain people’s dishonest actions. Rather, people act based on the emotional reactions they have to disparities in wealth. When people are jealous of those who… #

  • The Benefits of Spontaneous Apologies

    Apologizing to a sibling can carry nice benefits for young kids—but not if their parents force them to. Children ages two to six apologized more often on their own than on their parents suggestion. Spontaneous apologies were more common among older kids. As kids got older, they were also more… #

  • Positive Illusions and Relationship Satisfaction

    “Positive illusions” occur when people see their partners as more physically attractive than their partners see themselves. Such positive illusions have been associated with heterosexual couples’ satisfaction with their relationships. The authors of this paper analyzed data on 6,685 American couples to study whether the same is true for gay… #

  • Children’s Social Relationships and Happiness

    Researchers measured the connection between happiness and social relationships in 9- to 12-year-old children, finding that positive social interactions with family and friends—such as feeling like an important member of their family or frequently visiting friends—increased happiness. Negative social interactions with others—such as feeling left out or being mean to… #

  • Racism and Obesity

    African-American women who said they experienced higher levels of racism gained more weight over eight years than African-American women who were exposed to less discrimination. The results suggest that experiences of racism may contribute to the disproportionate amount of obesity among black women in the United States. —Kat Saxton


  • The Richness of Daily Activities

    In this study, people reported how much they felt that their day’s activities were pleasurable or rewarding. The most pleasurable activities on average were outdoor activities, watching TV, exercising, and socializing, whereas the most rewarding activities were work and volunteering. Remarkably, the kinds of activities people performed on a certain… #

  • Resilience and Workplace Well-Being

    Researchers coached executives four times over roughly two months, using techniques designed to help the executives identify and achieve their goals. The training drew heavily on principles from positive psychology, specifically in its emphasis on helping the executives understand the personal strengths and resources that could help them achieve their… #

  • Empathy and the Face vs. the Voice

    “Empathic accuracy” is the ability to correctly identify the emotional and mental states of others, a critical skill in social interactions. In this study, researchers tested empathic accuracy by videotaping participants as they discussed positive and negative autobiographical events. Objective viewers then rated how they thought participants felt when telling… #

  • Happy People, Better Health

    Surveying a wave of research on happiness, the authors examine the many ways that feeling happy can and might be linked to better health. Even when compared with people whose behavior is just as healthy as their own, happier people tend to have better health, including less stress hormones. Interestingly,… #

  • Depressive Symptoms in Urban Youth at Risk for Type 2 Diabetes

    Researchers found that urban youth with more severe symptoms of depression were at higher risk of Type 2 diabetes, and those same kids reported feeling less support for physical activity and a weaker ability to take control of their diet. The researchers suggest that evaluating and treating urban youth for… #

  • Moral Behavior and Time Perception

    How near or far we perceive an event to be from the present may affect our moral reasoning. Participants had to consider events that would take place in the near future or in the distant future. When thinking about events in the distant future, people indicated they would be more… #

  • Defensive Pessimists Pursue Goals

    “Defensive pessimists” are pessimistic and anxious about the future, but they also tend to reflect and carefully think through their options for the future. This study found that they also put greater importance on goals, work harder toward those goals, have higher expectations for the outcomes of those goals, and… #

  • Partner’s Photograph Can Reduce Pain

    In this study of social support, women felt something hot placed on their forearm. Women who were holding their boyfriend’s hand reported feeling less pain than women who held the hand of a stranger or squeezed a ball. What’s more, women who just looked at a picture of their boyfriend… #

  • Falling Happiness in the Rising Economy of China

    From 1990-2000, China experienced substantial economic growth and the standard of living there increased quickly. However, the happiness of people in China plummeted. The authors suggest that increasing income inequality is responsible: As some people became rich, the relative financial status of most Chinese families worsened, making members of those… #

  • It Takes a Village to Raise a Prosocial Child

    It takes a prosocial village to raise a prosocial child. The authors conducted a study of children in grades 6-12 in Binghamton, NY, to analyze the relationship between the support structures in a neighborhood and the amount of kind, helpful (or “prosocial”) behavior there. They examined census and survey data,… #

  • Social Networks and the Effects of Unemployment

    Are individuals with more social networks sheltered from the negative effects of unemployment? Researchers in Germany found that while “social capital” —the connections, levels of trust, and feelings of reciprocity one has with others—is an important predictor of well-being, there is no evidence that it reduces the negative effects of… #

  • When are People More Likely to Share?

    Under what conditions are people more likely to share? This study randomly assigned undergraduates to positions in a social network, then had them negotiate to exchange resources. The experiment suggests that having resources which are transferable (able to be exchanged in multiple relationships) and duplicable (reproducible across exchanges so that… #

  • Positive Illusions and Relationship Quality

    “Positive illusions” are when people see their partners as more physically attractive than their partners see themselves. In a series of studies, the authors examined how holding positive illusions about a partner’s physical attractiveness is associated with the quality of one’s relationship. After surveying 117 heterosexual couples in the Netherlands,… #

  • Gratitude Boosts Positive Emotions

    In a study on the effects of experiencing and expressing gratitude among adolescents, researchers found gratitude boosts positive emotions such as pride, hope, inspiration, forgiveness, and excitement, and increases life satisfaction, optimism, social support, and prosocial behavior. The adolescents reported how much they experienced and expressed gratitude, and the results… #

  • Experiencing Multiculturalism and Happiness

    Researchers found that for African-American and Asian youth of both genders, attending a school with a multicultural student body was linked to higher happiness, but only among students who showed high levels of “ethnocultural empathy,” meaning that they felt comfortable being around other races and ethnicities, speaking out against discrimination,… #

  • Can Having Richer Friends Make You Sick?

    Researchers examined whether people’s health is impacted by how they see their own income in relation to friends’ and family members’ income. They found that these kinds of social comparisons were related to health, but only at the extremes of social status. Having a lower income was associated with an… #

  • Support for Caregivers

    Caring for a friend or relative who has recently suffered a stroke can lead to psychological distress, such as stress or depression, in up to half of caregivers. Female caregivers developed distress earlier than males, even in anticipation of caregiving. Males developed similar levels of distress but only once they… #

  • Parenting and Adolescent Behaviors

    The way parents treat their kids in early adolescence may influence whether those kids engage in riskier behaviors in early adulthood. For females, having a closer family reduced their risk of dropping out of school, delayed when they started having sex, and reduced their number of sexual partners. Among males,… #

  • Mental Time Travel

    Researchers wanted to see if practicing “mental time travel” could make people happier. They found that after imagining specific positive future events every day for two weeks, people had greater increases in well-being than did people who’d imagined either negative or neutral events. So, according to the researchers, if you… #

  • Happiness East and West

    Researchers asked American and Japanese participants to describe their ideas of happiness and unhappiness. They found that whereas Americans associated happiness with personal achievement, Japanese participants associated it with social harmony. Also, in discussing how they cope with unhappiness, Americans emphasized feelings of anger, frustration, and aggression toward others; Japanese… #

  • Positive Effects of Humor

    Some evidence for the healing power of laughter: After viewing disturbing images, participants saw or read something humorous (e.g., a cartoon) or something that was simply meant to make them feel good, like a photo of a father holding his newborn child. Their negative feelings diminished more after the humorous… #