Physiological Effects of Helping Behavior

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Title:

Physiological Effects of Helping Behavior

Funding Agency:

NSF (#0820609 )

Principal Investigator:

 Stephanie Brown, PhD

AIM: The major goal is to refine our theoretical understanding of how helping behavior influences the body in ways that influence physical health and well-being.

ABSTRACT: Recent evidence indicates that helping others predicts improvements in the helper's physical and psychological well-being. The proposed studies investigate the extent to which helping insulates the helper against stressors encountered after the helping episode. This research, generated from animal models of caregiving motivation and stress regulation, breaks new ground by exploring the relationship between helping and stress reduction experimentally with human participants. In particular, this research examines whether helping another facilitates recovery from cardiovascular stress as well as the emotional and hormonal correlates that may mediate or moderate links between helping and stress recovery. Seven studies are proposed to address the gap in research on experimental investigations of effects of helping others on the helper's stress response. This research involves manipulating helping (and factors that should affect helping) in human adults, and examining the physiological (cardiovascular and neuroendocrine) antecedents and consequences of these manipulations. Specifically, this research will test the hypothesis that helping others facilitates cardiovascular stress recovery in the helper. In addition, the proposed work will attempt to clarify hormonal and emotional mechanisms through which helping might influence such recovery.

Last updated by jamie.romeiser on June 17, 2011

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