Daily Archives: September 16, 2010

Helping 101

One of the many reasons I love my writing job is that I get paid to learn stuff. Right now I just happen to be researching and writing an upcoming magazine story that’ll share a lot of what experts know about the science and motivation behind doing good. (Keep watching this space – I’ll be giving more details as the magazine issue gets closer to publication.)

Of course, I often write about good deeds. But this in particular is a fascinating opportunity to dig deeper: What’s the survival value of this behaviour? What exactly spurs people to help others, either consciously or subconsciously? We know the research shows it’s good for our mental and physical health. And most of us have experienced firsthand that nebulous warm glow of giving. But where does it all come from?

This week I’ve had the pleasure of chewing over these questions with two psychologists and a cultural anthropologist. (Just the fact that it takes Ph.D.-level brains to decipher do-good behaviour shows it can be complex stuff!) This assignment promises to be a great ride. More info to come.