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Helping & Happiness: Can Helping Others Improve Our Own Well-being (Essay Sample)


Question 1: Which of the five core social motives (belonging, understanding, controlling, enhancing self, trusting others) do you think best explains helping and happiness as discussed in Dr. Lara Aknin's talk?
Question 2: In her talk, Dr. Lara Aknin describes a series of studies demonstrating that people feel happier after spending money on others, compared to spending money on themselves, using both correlational and experimental approaches. Why do you think prosocial spending benefits personal well-being?
Question 3: Collectivism reflects the motivation to benefit one's own group as a whole, and it is separate from individual-level empathy. Provide an example where other-oriented altruism at the individual level undermines the collective good, or vice versa.
Please Answer Each Question Separately.


Helping and Happiness: Can helping others improve our Own Well-being

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Helping and Happiness: Can helping others improve our Own Well-being


Understanding comprises the motivation of people to elaborate their own environment. It includes the prediction of the activities that would occur when there are uncertainties (Strasser, 2013). The talk by Lara Aknin elaborates the effect of giving in relation to happiness. The people who are fond of giving a show an understanding of their environment, and through giving gifts and charity, they obtain happiness. 

Prosocial Spending and the Well-being of people

Human beings often act in selfish ways with the purpose of benefitting their own interests. Aknin (2014) begins her lecture by giving a story where she tricked her younger brother into believing that nickels were better than dimes. She was able to obtain the nickels from her brother in exchange for dimes that she used to purchase candy. She explains that she did everything at the cost of her brother to make herself feel happy by acting on her selfish genes.

Every day in the world, there exist kind acts both on the large and small scale. An example is the Canadian Ambassador to Iran, Ken Taylor, who sheltered American diplomats in the process of a hostile takeover in 1980. Other minimal examples of kindness include a bouquet of flowers that people receive from their friends or spouse and a cup of coffee that an individual could invite their friend to at a restaurant. The acts of kindness evident among people in their lives are not only beneficial to the recipients, but also to the well-being of the giver.

Progressively, Aknin (2014) undertook research to understand how people can maximize happiness from their choices of spending. The research began by conducting a survey of more than 600 Americans. The survey included obtaining information based on two categories. The first was their average monthly spending based on four elements. First were expenses, rent, bills, and debt. The second was gifts for others, the third, gifts for themselves and lastly, the amount spent on charitable activities. The survey included asking the participants how happy they are based on individual items. The four categories of monthly spending were further categorized into two indices. It included secluding personal expenses and summing how many people spent on personal gifts, rent, bills, and debt. The other index was categorized as prosocial spending that was the average monthly expenditure of people on others, including charity and gifts to others.

Further, Aknin (2014) undertook an analysis to determine how either spending influences the well-being of people. The main finding was that the expenditure of people on themselves was not relational to their well-being. Interestingly, the amount of expenditure by people on others did influence their happiness. Therefore, spending on others was directly related to the happiness of the givers. The amount of money spent o

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