Have you ever wondered if social networking promotes cooperative behavior? The nature of human social networking—our ability to connect deeply and instantaneously with friends, family, and other individuals—would seem to suggest that social networking can foster cooperation with others. Until recently, there was no scientific proof that social networking itself leads to altruistic cooperation. If one person helps another, could a third party be influenced simply by participating in the same network?
In an attempt to answer this question, Fowler and Christakis (2009) researchers from Harvard Medical School and the University of California, San Diego designed an experiment (n=240) to test whether people really do “pay it forward,” or pass along altruistic behavior through indirect, “networked” interaction (Experiment Details).
The results of the experiment suggest—objectively—that cooperative, altruistic behavior can spread as far as three degrees within a social network (from person to person to person). In other words, by helping others, we can create a “cascade” of altruistic behavior!
Because each “degree” in a social network represents exponential growth, helping your friend could trigger a wave of altruistic behavior in hundreds or even thousands of people!
Does this research make you think differently about the impact of your altruistic actions?
Check out AltruHelp.com to trigger your own volunteer network.
Have you ever painted kid’s faces and blown up beach balls while simultaneously making snow-cones? How about doing this for hundreds of elementary school students in Boston’s South End and then leading them in a Hokey Pokey flash mob dance?
This was exactly how AltrUHelp’s co-founders and several members of the team spent our Tuesday morning, volunteering through Boston Cares at the Arts in the Park festival in Titus Sparrow Park.
The festival, run by the United South End Settlements—a nonprofit that provides Boston children, teens, adults, and seniors with educational programs and social services—drew over 600 children and adults from the Greater Boston community. Many of those 600 attendees stopped by the snow-cone booth to cool off with AltrUHelp-handmade cherry, orange, grape, and blue-raspberry flavored ice. Keep reading to see the video of the elementary school kids hokey pokey flash mob dance! Continue reading
Last week thousands of non-profits, volunteers, and corporate executives gathered at the 2011 National Conference on Volunteering and Service (NCVS) in New Orleans to discuss innovative solutions for addressing the challenges of the social IMPACT sector.
The Co-Founders of AltrUHelp were on site to cover the event for Forbes and spotlight pockets of social entrepreneurship (To see the Forbes article: Click here). Organized by the Corporation for National & Community Service and the Points of Light Institute, more than 4000 attendees came together to explore this budding space.
Discussion topics ranged from Bringing Community Organizing into Online Campaigns to seminars like Does Your Employee Volunteer Program Measure Up? A seminar led by a community engagement leader from Timberland focused on developing reporting standards for corporations to measure the impact of CSR activities. Leaders from Citizen Schools, Heart of America, Fidelity Investments, and Capital One also lead an intriguing workshop titled Building a Sustainable and Results Oriented Volunteer Movement Within Your Company.
I was able to sit down with Kelly Fisher, Assistant Manager of Philanthropy for Toyota Motor North America, who walked us through one of Toyota’s current CSR programs, “100 Cars for Good.” Read More
Writing checks, headlining the occasional soiree, a photo-op with some charity – These are the common images which come to mind when people think of celebrities and altruism. With their otherworldly lives, good looks, and sheer fame, can we expect celebrities to empathize, to really get it, when all the rest has gotten to their heads?
Actually, there are many celebrities out there who do!!! In fact, a roll call of A-listers are putting their energies and passion toward an amazing breadth of causes. For a dose of true celebrity star power, check out this brief list of celebs: Lady Gaga, Brad & Angelina, Mark Wahlberg, and Prince William & Princess Kate to see the dynamic work they are doing for causes they value.
Few celebrities combine fashionista, musical talent, global reach and Twitterati quite like Lady Gaga. Just 25 years old, she’s already a 5-time Grammy award winner, the holder of two Guinness World Records, and She’s closing in on 10 million followers on Twitter @ladygaga – more than any other twitting being on Earth. With every red carpet cameo, she upends the fashion world with her avant garde ensembles and slightly absurd sensibilities. Lady G is the quintessential 21st century celeb, and with that comes extraordinary altruistic clout!
*Welcome to Part II of The Science Behind Altruism, our series of posts exploring the new scientific discoveries surrounding altruism.
“When I do good, I feel good.” – Abraham Lincoln
Leave it to Honest Abe, who provided America such oratorical masterpieces as the Gettysburg Address and his Second Inaugural, to sum up altruism in seven simple words. Plain yet spot-on, what Lincoln described is the core experience of being altruistic: that doing good for others really provides us an unmatched feeling of well-being, simply from knowing we helped another person.
Psychologists call it the “Helper’s High.” But here at AltruHelp we know it’s more than that. Why? Because of the flurry of cutting edge research that is bringing new understanding to how and why this sensation of “feeling good” happens, and the possibilities ahead for recognizing the contributions of altruism to our health and happiness.
Thanks to advances in brain-imaging technology and the advent of neuroeconomics, a new field that applies neuroscience to study economic behavior, scientists have designed several experiments that actually trace altruism—and the pleasure we gain from it—to specific regions and systems in the brain. In fact, two studies offer striking evidence that our brains are naturally wired to help us be altruistic. Read More
Our hearts, minds and prayers are with everyone suffering from the Japanese earthquake and Pacific tsunami that struck this past Friday, March 11, 2011. The earthquake was one of the worst ever recorded, triggering a tsunami that wiped away entire towns and left massive devastation in its wake.
First, we want to highlight the individuals selflessly placing the interest of the Japanese nation before their own. The Fukushima 50 are the team of volunteers currently attempting to prevent a nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan. The team of 50, who have since been joined by 150 others, are sacrificing their health and safety for the greater good of society. Several members of the team are presumed dead, 15 are reported to be injured and others have said they believe the radiation may kill them as they battle to cool overheating nuclear reactors in Japan. Our prayers go out to the families of these brave individuals courageously working to repair the nuclear plant and inspiring altruism worldwide. Click here to learn more.
Secondly, we want to share a really helpful post from Rinth, a fellow WordPress blogger, that highlights how you can help organizations providing food, shelter and medical response to the victims in Japan.
As Rinth highlights, there are three things we should all try to do. Read More
I recently read a blog post where Lyell of Do It Yourself Fitness highlighted the significance of “seeing people you’ve helped, help those around them…and seeing how all your hard work has a positive effect.”
Lyell’s post reinforces an important topic our team plans to explore: does seeing altruism make individuals more altruistic? Here at AltrUHelp, we feel that seeing is believing, because one altruistic action drives a chain of action. We believe that seeing altruism influences action and encourages others to pay it forward.We’ve all heard the saying, “actions speak louder than words,” but how many of us are bold enough to take that first step towards helping a random individual?
As Leonard Schlesinger, the president of my MBA program at Babson College, highlights in his new AWESOME book Action Trumps Everything, “The future may or may not be like the past, but you don’t have to spend a lot of time wondering how the future will play out if you plan to shape it.” Take that first step as Lyell did below and start your own altruistic chain of action. If your not sure where to start but you know you want to help others, send me an email at Mathew@altruhelp.com and I’ll send you an exclusive invitation to join the Beta launch of AltrUHelp.com this Spring 2011. Join the world’s largest online altruistic social experiment to prove that humans naturally want to help others and be helped themselves because altruism is hardwired to the brain and fun!
Thanks Lyell for sharing this great story with us! We welcome everyone’s comments on this topic as we get closer to launching the AltrUHelp Social Experiment. Thanks for reading!
via DIY Fitness
Wonderful blog post by Amy Van ES exemplifying altruism exhibited within her community. The story illustrates how people in communities naturally come together to help each other! We will continue to spotlight these inspirational stories as we build our website and prepare for launching the AltrUHelp social experiment. Thank you Amy for sharing this beautiful blog post with us. See Amy’s story below:
via AMY VAN ES
Helping the homeless: You can make a huge difference in someone’s life with just one random act of kindness. Authentic blog post by fellow WordPress blogger Therabidpossum below: