Home » Uncategorized » old post: Is it better to give or to receive

old post: Is it better to give or to receive

from 2012

Which makes us more prone to give, being a giver or being gifted by others? A Psychological Science paper by Adam Grant and Jane Dutton suggests the former.
For instance, in one study fundraisers working for a call center at a university were randomly assigned to keep a journal for four days, 15 minutes a day, in which either (a) they had felt grateful for a benefit received from another; or (b) they had made a contribution that made others grateful. Then they counted the change in calls made by these fundraisers. In the beneficiary condition, calls per hour only increased from 3.76 to 3.84. In the benefactor condition, they went from 3.33 to 4.31. Thinking of times they had given led the fundraisers to make more calls. 
In a similar study, some participants wrote about giving to or receiving from others (or were in a control group). From 1 to 4 weeks later they came to the lab to get their payment at which point they were asked if they wanted to give part to an earthquake relief effort, given the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.  Of the control participants, 13% donated. Of those who had focused on their own receipt of gifts, 21% did. But the donation rate for those who had thought (many days before!) about giving was 46%. 
There's good evidence that gratitude sometimes increases giving. But this study highlights the importance of giving for subsequent giving. There are many reasons why giving gifts should make us give more. My favorite is that we know ourselves much as we know others--through watching our actions.  Thus I realize I was hungry when I see that I've eaten all of my food in nanoseconds. How do I know whether I'm a generous person? Maybe the same way I would know if someone else were generous--by seeing what I've done. Reminding myself of my specific acts of generosity should, then, help me to be more generous. 
So--done anything good for anyone lately?

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