Benefits of Sympathy and Cross-Race Friendships Explained by Science

Benefits of Sympathy and Cross-Race Friendships Explained by Science

When people do overcome the temptation of self-interest and instead help and cooperate with others, they become more respected in their group, and then upon receiving that respect, they then help others even more.

–Robb Willer, Ph.D., M.A., B.A. Associate Professor of Sociology at Stanford University.


3 Benefits of Being Sympathetic

We [psychologists] have become interested in concepts like compassion and gratitude. Only 8 or 9 years ago, there was one study of gratitude in scientific literature. 1,000s of studies of anger, and one study of gratitude.

There is this long standing assumption that in terms of evolution, it is survival of the fittest, and it is important to know, that wasn’t Darwin who said that, but somebody who came after Darwin named Herbert Spencer. What Darwin said in Descent of Man is, ‘Sympathy is our strongest instinct.’

Sympathetic people do better in the game of reproduction. It turns out they are more attractive as mates. Sympathetic parents have kids who are more resilient, and who thrive more. Sympathetic people do better in competitive situations with strangers. Data shows kind people fair pretty well and evoke a lot of trust in others.

–Dacher Keltner, a UC Berkeley psychology professor leading research in emotion and social interaction.


See How a Cross-Race Friendship Is Good for Your Health

In a Berkeley experiment designed by psychologist Rudy Mendoza-Denton, researchers sought answers to overcome prejudice.

They put two strangers of different races together in a room. They first measured the level of the hormone Cortisol, which is elevated when a person is under stress. They are given increasingly personal questions to ask each other, to impel them to get to know each other better.

After the last meeting, in which they play a game, their Cortisol levels are tested again. The study shows that Cortisol levels dropped significantly, as low as the control group of same race pairs.

I expected those anxiety effects, and those awkwardnesses that happen in those initial interactions to persist for a long time, but those barriers came down pretty quickly, and we were really happy to see that. I think one of the primary lessons to learn is that cross-race friendship can be good for your health.

–Rudy Mendoza-Denton, Professor of Psychology at UC Berkeley.


The Science of Happiness [Video]

The above quotes were taken from the below video on the science of happiness:

Image: "• • • Happy • • •" by David Robert Bliwas.

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