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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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Altruism, Religion, and Health: Exploring the Ways in Which Helping Others Benefits Support Providers

Altruism, Religion, and Health: Exploring the Ways in Which Helping Others Benefits Support Providers

Chapter:
(p.410) 22 Altruism, Religion, and Health: Exploring the Ways in Which Helping Others Benefits Support Providers
Source:
Altruism and Health
Author(s):

Neal Krause

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195182910.003.0027

This chapter suggests that, for those so inclined, a religious community in which altruism is prescribed might be useful. It discusses the ways in which formal places of worship provide opportunities for helping behaviour and its associated health benefits to flourish. Because religions extol the virtues of loving others and helping those in need, and offer both informal and formal ways of putting these virtues into practice, it is no surprise that more volunteer work is done through churches, synagogues, mosques, and so on than through any other organization. There are many ways in which religion promotes helping behaviour, which all merit further study. The primary function of religion is to provide a sense of meaning to life and that helping others may be the best avenue for doing so. The chapter reviews four major studies that address volunteering in the religious setting and concludes that a good deal of volunteer work takes place in this setting, and the benefits of volunteering may be the greatest for older adults who help within the church.

Keywords:   altruistic behaviour, religious community, helping behaviour, older adults, volunteering

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