In veterinary medicine, it helps to love people and animals. And new research suggests it helps the lover just as much as the loved.
Social scientists at the University of California-Berkeley are studying how collaboration and kindness contribute to social success, according to a recent report. They’re asking the question, does the human race really benefit from compassion—and how?
In one study, UC-Berkeley psychologist and author Dacher Keltner found that people who possessed a particular oxytocin gene receptor read emotions more accurately and experienced less stress during tough times. According to the researchers, oxytocin stimulates feelings of affection and love.
Another study by UC-Berkeley psychologist Robb Willer looked at the benefits of compassion and collaboration. Participants were given a limited amount of money and told to play games to benefit the “public good.” Those who acted more generously received more gifts, respect, and cooperation and wielded more influence among the other participants.
“The findings suggest that anyone who acts only in his or her narrow self-interest will be shunned, disrespected, even hated,” Willer says. “But those who behave generously with others are held in high esteem by their peers and thus rise in status.”