By Jeremy Howick in The Conversation.
We feel good when we do a good deed, so there must be a psychological benefit to helping others? But how can we know for sure? The best way to study the health benefits of kind deeds is to look at studies of volunteering.
In 2011, Daniel George conducted a randomised trial with 30 adults in Ohio with mild to moderate dementia. Half the adults spent an hour every two weeks helping young school children with reading, writing and history. The other half (the control group) were assigned to not do any voluntary work. At the end of the five-month study, stress was lowered more in the adults who helped than in the adults who didn’t.
However, the study was small, so in 2012 researchers conducted a meta-analysis where data from several studies are combined and re-analysed in order to provide more reliable statistics.
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