There has long been the expression that it is better to give than to receive. Now, according to new research it would seem that in order to boost a person’s emotional well-being, it is best to give to another person, in particular your spouse.
In a release from the University of Rochester, it was revealed that there is finally empirical evidence to back the statement that giving is better than receiving. Psychologists are saying that a person benefits emotionally when they do compassionate acts for another person, even if that person is not aware that something was done for them.
A University of Rochester psychology professor, Harry Reis, was in charge of a research team that looked at 175 newlywed wives and husbands in North America, who had only been married for a little over seven months to determine if their well-being was different based on what they do for each other. Based on their findings published in the journal Emotion, participants who looked to meet their partner’s needs over their own personal wants emotionally benefited from this change.
While the well-being of an individual who receives a compassionate act is more likely to benefit emotionally if they notice that something was done for them, for the person doing the good act, it is not really necessary for the act to be noticed. Whether or not the act of compassion is explicitly noticed, psychologists found that for the donor (or person who does the giving), there is a substantial shift in mood.
Over the course of two weeks, both husbands and wives recorded their acts of giving to each other and then the corresponding moods they felt. In terms of well-being, it seems that husbands noticed the acts of compassion more often than the wives. Keeping track of one’s emotional state included marking down whether they were angry, happy, sad, hurt or enthusiastic, among others and even recorded how their mood may have shifted based on doing something for the other person.
Harry Reis says that based on this particular study into how well-being is effected by doing something for others, he feels that acting compassionately is perhaps a reward in and of itself. Moving forward, the researchers are also hoping to determine how a person’s emotional state is changed based on spending money for another person as well. They hope to figure out if there is a difference between the reason a person is spending money on another person, such as to make a person feel better or to impress them, and how this can make them feel.
By Dorothea James