Purpose & Prosocial Behavior
In exploring the human experience of purpose, the NPP project has identified several core themes that are particularly significant, and which provide a useful framework for organizing our activities. This page displays the content from this website tagged for one of those themes: Purpose & Prosocial Behavior.
Work on Purpose & Prosocial Behavior is centered on the discovery of factors that attract individuals to prosocial behaviors like volunteering, teaching, and serving others. Here, we ask questions like: To what extent are the factors that promote the initiation of prosocial behavior the same as the factors which best sustain ongoing prosocial behavior? When are “push” factors more or less effective than “pull” factors in initiating and sustaining helping behavior? See below for content related to our emerging insights.
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The Art of Asking for Help, Twice
Is it worth asking for a favor from someone who has refused before? A new paper suggests that our intuitions about such situations are misguided, potentially making us miss out on opportunities to get needed help.
Be a “Keeper” of Your New Year’s Resolution
New Year’s resolutions provide a new opportunity to reaffirm our purpose, but it can be easy to be led astray. How can we stay on track? New research from Chris Bryan suggests that a seemingly subtle change in the words we use to describe our actions can help.
Inside the Science of Purpose: George Wu
Professor George Wu, in an interview for our “Inside the Science of Purpose” series: "Purpose in my mind largely is the clarity of mind about which motivations you really want to pursue. I think that our research will contribute to creating that clarity by demonstrating how prosocial activities like volunteering are a means to achieving purpose."
Gift Exchange: When Does the Thought Really Count?
Choosing the holiday gift that will be most appreciated can be challenging sometimes. When is it the thought that counts and when is it all about choosing the right gift? Research by Yan Zhang and Nicholas Epley provides some intriguing insights, including an unexpected benefit of gift exchange for givers.
Promoting Purpose with a Single Question
Aspiring to live a purposeful life and extend our help to others presents us with non-trivial choices. New research by Professor Christopher Hsee from the NPP Network and his colleagues discovered a single question that can help us calibrate our choices on charitable giving and assist fundraisers in boosting donations.
When Values Clash on the Path to Purpose
Our decisions can define the purpose of our existence. Chelsea Manning’s controversial decision to release classified government documents has radically altered her purpose in life. Some see her as a hero while others see her as a traitor. Recent research explains why this discrepancy might exist.
Making Progress on the Path to Purpose
Sam Simon, co-creator of The Simpsons, recently vowed to donate the majority of his fortune to support animal rights because with animal rights one can see fast progress. What can New Paths to Purpose research teach us about this and other concerns when making decisions about charity?
Volunteerism: Helping People Act on Their Noble Intentions
Given the close link between volunteerism and a sense of purpose, it is no surprise that many people would like to dedicate more of their time to volunteering for their community. However, these good intentions often fail to translate to actual action. NPP’s Volunteerism agenda is recruiting behavioral science to address this intention-action gap.