A new study published in the journal Nature has found that generosity makes people happier.
Scientists from the University of Zurich in Switzerland were interested to examine whether there was any neural link between generosity and happiness. “Generous behaviour is known to increase happiness, which could thereby motivate generosity,” they said.
The study examined two groups of people, one of which promised to spend money on others, while the other promised to keep the money for themselves.
At the end of the four week period, researchers found that those in the first group that had promised to spend on others reported an increase in happiness as compared to the control group.
Scientists also used functional magnetic resonance imaging to look into the brain to investigate any neural link. They discovered that generous decisions activated an area of the brain linked to happiness and the reward cycle.
They concluded that while generous behaviour may be costly – “as it involves the investment of one’s own resources for the benefit of others” – it can increase happiness and could also motivate generosity in the future.