The first study: Believe it or not, most humans want to help each other, not shoot them or blow them up. I know! Kinda hard to believe, but it's true. When people express gratitude for what they have, they tend to pay it forward by helping others. A study conducted by Northeastern University has found that people really do want to pay it forward when someone else helps them. And the reason is that they feel grateful. When we, humans and frogs alike, feel grateful for the kindness of others, it motivates us to want to help someone else.
The second study: When humans do help others, they feel happier. Psychologist Elizabeth Dunn, and her colleagues gave each study participant $5.00 to spend as they wished. There was one small catch, however, half of the participants had to spend the money on themselves while the other half had to spend it on someone else. When the researchers followed up with them the next day, they found that those who spent their $5.00 on someone else felt happier than those who spent it on themselves. Generosity makes both the giver, and the receiver feel good!
The third study: Carol Ryoff, a psychologist known for her work in eudaimonic well-being, the sense that life has purpose and meaning, published a report in 2015 that proved this theory is true. Those study participants who spent more time helping others reported having feeling their lives had a greater purpose and meaning. That same study also showed that participants who wrote a letter of gratitude to someone who was important to them also experienced a greater sense of purpose. They felt as if their lives had real meaning. "This research shows that taking time to help another person or express gratitude to someone else can actually make life more meaningful."
The fourth study: Supporting or helping others is linked to a longer life. it's been thought that helping others lead to a longer life. Psychologist Stephanie Brown and her colleagues set out to see if this was true. They asked their study participants how much time they spent helping others (a friend, neighbor, babysitting, etc). Over the next five years, she found that those participants who spent the most time helping others had the lowest risk of mortality. As it turned out, those who helped make other's lives better actually ended up supporting their own in the process. In 2013 one-quarter of American adults volunteered, and most adults spent time informally helping someone they knew.
The fifth (and final) study: It's possible to become more empathetic. Stanford University's Carol Dweck has conducted a wide range of studies on people's mindsets. This includes "growth mindset", the belief that they can improve at something with effort and the "fixed mindset", those who think that their abilities are relatively unchangeable. What she found is that the mindset of the individual became self-fulfilling, whichever one they believed. Believe it or not, empathy is one of those things that humans (and we frogs, too) can improve if we believe it can be (the"growth mindset"). How empathetic a person thinks they are, determines how empathetic they actually are. You are what you think. That's good news! Empathy isn't something that only a few humans and frogs have the capacity for. In reality, we ALL have the ability to become more empathetic.
If we listen to the news, it's easy to get discouraged; to give up on humanity. But the daily news doesn't paint an accurate picture of the real world. Charles Schultz, the beloved creator of the Peanuts comic strip once said, "I love mankind...it's people I can't stand." But these five studies suggest otherwise. It IS possible to love mankind, as well as all the individuals who make it up. Until tomorrow, I wish you