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Being generous may make you happier

While you may be a little hesitant to buy people gifts or make large donations, research supports the idea that acts of generosity have the ability to make you happy.

By doing studies using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), a team of researchers in Zurich, Switzerland, was able to find which neural networks are activated when people perform a generous act. The team published its findings on Nature.

As reported by dpa, the experiment used a sample of 48 individuals.

This group was divided into two groups of 24 individuals, one being the experimental group and the other being the control group.

All participants were told that they would receive 25 Swiss francs (S$36) in each of the following four weeks, totaling 100 Swiss francs by the end.

Participants in the experimental group were asked to commit to spending the money that they received on other people of their own choice.

For example, buying someone dinner or a gift.

Meanwhile, participants in the control group were asked to commit to spending the money on themselves.

In actuality, none of the participants ever received any money.

However, immediately after making their respective commitments, a test was performed by each participant, which allowed researchers to observe brain activity using the fMRI device. Subjective happiness was assessed as well.

The results that researchers obtained from these assessments show that participants in the experimental group were generally happier than those in the control group.

Researchers found greater activity in the temporoparietal junction (TPJ), the brain structure often related to generous behaviour in the past, within participants of the experimental group. Researchers also found changes in the connectivity between the TPJ and the so-called ventral striatum, an area of the brain that causes pleasant feelings of happiness.

“This allowed us to confirm that there is a connection between generous behaviour and happiness,” said So Young Park of the University of Luebeck in Germany, who led the research.

So, here’s a reason to take a friend out to dinner, or perhaps set aside some money to donate to a good cause; it’ll benefit you too.

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Published at Sun, 30 Jul 2017 09:00:00 +0000