A group of researchers, including Amanda Dillard, assistant professor of psychology, found that giving to others not only makes people happy, but it protects their health and lengthens their lives.
Dillard said the group examined five-year survival data (from the Changing Lives of Older Couples) among a sample of 846 older adults from the Detroit area. Participants completed baseline interviews that assessed past-year stressful events and whether the participant had provided tangible assistance to friends or family members.
"The analyses revealed a significant interaction between helping behavior, stressful events, and mortality," she said. "Specifically, stress did not predict mortality risk among individuals who provided help to others in the past year, but stress did predict mortality among those who did not provide help to others."