Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Witnessing Acts of Compassion Prompts People to Do Good: Study

Does a part of us transform for the better after observing extraordinary acts of goodness? A University of British Columbia researcher thinks so.

In a new study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Karl Aquino and his team found that after witnessing exceptional altruistic acts, people are more likely to perform charitably themselves.

“It produces these kinds of changes in their thinking,” he says, adding that witnessing good deeds also prompts people take stock of their own lives and ponder whether they could be better people.

“They have a sort of emotional reaction—they’re inspired, they feel somewhat awed by the behaviour, they may get severe physiological reactions. A lot of these changes can then lead them to try to do good things for others.”
The study found that most people could recall a time when they had personally witnessed an act of goodness, which had influenced their emotions, thoughts, and behaviour in life.

“This finding tells us that it is not only the evil that men and women do that survives them, but sometimes also the good,” the study concluded.

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