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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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Close Relationships and Health Through the Lens of Selective Investment Theory

Close Relationships and Health Through the Lens of Selective Investment Theory

Chapter:
(p.299) 16 Close Relationships and Health Through the Lens of Selective Investment Theory
Source:
Altruism and Health
Author(s):

Stephanie L. Brown

R. Michael Brown

Ashley Schiavone

Dylan M. Smith

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195182910.003.0020

This chapter reviews a program of research that was designed to explore the health benefits of helping or giving support to others. This work was inspired by a new evolutionary theory of altruism, selective investment theory (SIT), which recasts the functional significance of social bonds as designed by natural selection to promote adaptive instances of giving. SIT assumes that social bonds enable individuals to suppress self-interest so that they can reliably prioritize and promote the well-being of another, even at a cost to the self. In this way, the social bond resolves the motivational conflict inherent in deciding whether to promote self versus other interests. The chapter describes the results of four studies that demonstrate the health benefits of helping others, including decreased mortality risk, recovery from depressive symptoms following spousal loss, and relief from cardiovascular stress. It concludes with a discussion of promising new directions for future research in this area.

Keywords:   health benefits, helping, selective investment theory, social bonds, recovery, depression

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