How Giving is Better Than Receiving

Scientific Proof That Doing the Right Thing Makes People Happier

  @ibtimesau on

As the old saying goes, "It is better to give than to receive." Most people would shrug off this proverb and keep to themselves thinking that it would be better, but there is scientific proof that people like it better when they give than receive.

According to a study that is based on the wise saying, University of California, Los Angeles, scientists revealed that giving support to people's loved ones' not only benefits the recipient, but also the giver.

Naomi Eisenberger, UCLA assistant professor of psychology and the senior author of the study, along with Tristen Inagaki, studied 20 young couples in good relationships. While the women underwent brain scans during the experiment, their boyfriends received electric shocks.

At times, the women could show their support to their partners getting electrocuted by holding their arm or by holding a squeeze-ball.

Through this experiment, life scientists discovered that the women who gave support to their boyfriends had increased activity in the reward-related regions of the brain. In addition, the more reward-related brain activity that the women had, the more they felt connected to their boyfriend while providing support.

Eisenberger noted that the region of the brain that had increased activity is called the ventral striatum, which is typically active in response to simple rewards like chocolate, sex, and money.

These findings also suggest that support-giving may have stress-reducing effects for the person who provides the support. Inagaki also pointed out that giving support to loved ones increases their likelihood of survival.

Another study back in March 2008 conducted by Michael Norton, professor at Harvard Business School, also supported the proverb, making it clear that giving is better than receiving.

In Norton's study, 632 Americans were questioned as to how much they earned and how they spent their hard-earned cash, as well as rating their own happiness on how they spent it, James Randerson of The Guardian reported.

The researchers found that regardless of the income level of those who were questioned, those who spent their money on others reported greater happiness than those who spent more on themselves.

In another study done in October 2006, Jordan Grafman, chief of the Cognitive Neuroscience Section the National Institute of Neurological Disorder and Stroke, also proved that there is joy in giving, Science Central reported.

Asking 19 healthy volunteers to play a computer game that gave out cash rewards, it also asks the player if they want the money given to them to be donated to charities.

With the participants getting their brain scanned as they played, parts of their brain lit up when they received cash rewards. But the researchers noticed that when the players donated their winnings to charities, parts of their brain related to rewards showed more activity than that when they just got money.

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