Is it good to do good? Altruism and Health
Parents and teachers have long encouraged children to be good, telling them that it is its own reward, while many religious teachings emphasize that in giving we receive. Now, a growing body of empirical research indicates that, indeed, concern for others is beneficial to individuals’ physical and mental health. What are we to make of this evidence? Dillon will review different connotations of the meaning of altruism and discuss some empirical patterns informing our knowledge of the impact of care-giving activities -whether directed toward other individuals and groups or social causes (e.g., environmental sustainability) - on individual health. Given research trends indicating that it is good to do good, this can be a springboard for discussion of the nature of altruism, and how universities, other communities, and society as a whole can create diverse care-giving opportunities whose outcomes benefit both self and community.