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The Paradox of GenerosityGiving We Receive, Grasping We Lose$
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Christian Smith and Hilary Davidson

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199394906

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199394906.001.0001

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The Lived Experiences of Generous Americans

The Lived Experiences of Generous Americans

(p.180) Chapter 5 The Lived Experiences of Generous Americans
The Paradox of Generosity

Beaster-Christian Smith

Hilary Davidson

Oxford University Press

Chapter 5 steps away from quantitative surveys and instead offers qualitative interviews to illustrate and develop many of the findings of the survey analysis. The experiences of the interviewees elucidate the generosity paradox, its dynamics and consequences, as they play out in real people’s lives. This chapter fleshes out some of the principles developed in the previous chapters and demonstrates some of the complexities and variants at work in the generosity paradox. Generous Americans tend to experience greater health, self-efficacy, sense of life purpose, and, most notably, happiness. “Pathological altruists,” those who pursue generous behaviors at steep personal costs and do not experience the benefits of generosity, are also considered in this chapter.

Keywords:   generosity, well-being, happiness, generous practices vs. one-time gifts or events, pathological altruism, qualitative interviews

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