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Altruism and HealthPerspectives from Empirical Research$
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Stephen G. Post

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195182910

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195182910.001.0001

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Helping Behavior and Longevity: An Emotion Model

Helping Behavior and Longevity: An Emotion Model

(p.246) 13 Helping Behavior and Longevity: An Emotion Model
Altruism and Health

Deborah D. Danner

Wallace V. Friesen

Adah N. Carter

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines a possible mechanism to account for why helping behaviours might have positive health outcomes. It argues that positive emotional responses, particularly future-oriented positive emotions, form the basis of attitudes that lead to repetitive choices in one's use of time and energy. Such choices related to the arousal of positive emotions secure accompanying cardiovascular and immune physiologic responses capable of improving health and extending life. The chapter focuses primarily on the elderly population, where declining health may be a factor, and where accumulated knowledge and decreased daily demands make providing help to others personally appropriate and socially useful. It suggests that the most likely underlying mechanism linking helping behaviour and health is positive emotions, and no single activity or even class of activities will arouse positive emotions in all individuals, especially when responses must be time extended or repetitive.

Keywords:   helping behaviour, positive health outcomes, emotional response, positive emotions, elderly

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