A vivid story can put us in a more altruistic mode, a study shows. UK researchers looked at the two ways people think about death – abstractly or specifically. They used a detailed story which placed the reader in a burning apartment to activate specific death thoughts. A second group of subjects answered more general questions about death, while a control group was exposed to non-death-related material. They then gave subjects a second item to read, an article about blood donations which came in two versions, suggesting that blood donations were either at record highs or record lows. Finally, all subjects were given the opportunity to express an interest in donating blood. […]
Just-published research in the Journals of Gerontology: Medical Sciences shows that volunteering and similar social activities are helpful in staving off mental decline in later years, and can actually improve cognition.
OK, here’s a quick task: take a minute to write down some common characteristics and behaviors that superheroes might exhibit… (DON’T read further until you have jotted down some ideas.)
Done? You should know that I have manipulated you and influenced your future behavior… but in a good way! If your local non-profit called you right now and asked for your help with, say, an upcoming fund-raising project, you would likely be much more willing to volunteer your time than before you started reading this and performing this little exercise! […]