Giving and Giving Thanks

Here in the U.S. we’re getting ready for tomorrow’s Thanksgiving holiday, which means that PLOS ONE is taking a few days off.

To get in the mood for the holiday, here’s an important reminder, courtesy of a recent article: toddlers show a greater emotional reward from giving than from receiving, suggesting that we might all be better off with more giving in our lives.

Lara Aknin and colleagues from University of British Columbia reported this result in Giving Leads to Happiness in Young Children, published last June. The paper describes experiments demonstrating that toddlers show greater happiness when giving than when receiving. Furthermore, the authors found that children were happiest after “costly giving,” in which they had to sacrifice something of their own in order to give a gift. This effect may seem counterintuitive, but the authors write that it provides important insight into observed prosocial behavior among humans which has been difficult to explain.

Citation: Aknin LB, Hamlin JK, Dunn EW (2012) Giving Leads to Happiness in Young Children. PLoS ONE 7(6): e39211. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0039211

Image credit: asenat29 on flickr

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