Climb High to Give More

A new study reveals some highs and lows about a person’s emotional state. Larry Sanna and his associates at the University of North Carolina conducted a study that showed people who had ridden up an escalator were twice as likely to contribute to the Salvation Army than those who encountered the charity after they rode down an escalater. Another experiment revealed that test subjects freely gave 50 percent more of their time to a questionairre after walking up a set of stairs than those who completed the same questionairre at the bottom of the stairs. Sanna and his team believe that height is often related to feelings of graciousness and stature. He states that these feelings are powerful factors in determining just how we think about others and ourselves.

This new research also poses the question, is there an unconscious series of events at work that determine if we will take steps to be helpful and giving? Sanna’s findings take an existing behavioral dynamic of social behavior one step further by identifying that even subtle differences in emotional circumstances, such as feeling elevated, may result in a more generous attitude toward others.

In a related article, the theory of “embodied cognition” is suggested as a contributing factor for these new fndings. This theory explores the possibility that the thoughts in our minds are formed by the actual experiences and exposures of our bodies. As an example, if a person drinks a warm drink, they will act warmer to those around them. In addition, chemically induced mood states may not reap the same rewards because the person has not truly achieved that state on their own and can not benefit from a feeling of accomplishment. And evidence states that those who have a higher social status are not always the most charitable and giving people. In either case, this new study opens up the door for further research in this area.

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The preceding article summarizes research or news from periodicals or related source material in the fields of mental health and psychology. GoodTherapy.org did not participate in or condone any studies, or conclucions thereof, that may have been cited. Any views or opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org.

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  • Sam

    April 4th, 2011 at 4:34 AM

    Any time that we are feeling better about ourselves I have noticed and increased generosity and kind ness toward others too. I am not sure what that is all baout but maybe it has to do with wanting to project some of what you are feeling onto others in a positive and giving way. Makes you wish we could all feel good about ourselves all of the time. What a happier world we would all live in and experience!

  • sarah

    April 4th, 2011 at 12:16 PM

    now I would agree on this one if the study was based on say when people were on a platform that rose above everybody around us or something.but being on a higher storey is not much of ‘feeling higher’ because everybody around you is at the same level too!

    it could be that people who went up the escalator were just entering the building and therefore had more time and those that were going down were obviously heading for the exit,a time when everything else is,usually,not important!

  • Megan

    April 4th, 2011 at 9:02 PM

    That’s… an interesting connection. It doesn’t make a lot of sense but I find that it didn’t work for me. In school, History, Geography, Music, and Art were my worst classes throughout high school. All of them were on the top floor.

  • Johnna

    April 5th, 2011 at 4:39 AM

    Perhaps the organizations like the Salvation Army bell ringers should rethink the time of year when they are ringing teir bells. Some people feel more charitable around the holidays but others feels like they have already spent too much and feel guilty giving more. maybe they should move the money drive to a different time of year and see if that could make a difference, maybe a time when people are naturally feeling good. Perhaps around summer vacations?

  • Eugene.T

    April 5th, 2011 at 2:16 PM

    Okay,I’ll admit it.It’s true that I do something similar to this.When I’m with friends and some charity collection comes up,I tend to donate more than I would while I’m not with friends. Maybe this is an inherent way of showing my superiority but I just can’t help it.

  • Belle

    April 5th, 2011 at 10:27 PM

    @megan Well everyone is affected by things differently. Some of these situations may have the opposite effect on a slight minority or the stats may come out differently on a different day. Maybe your teachers were just poor educators.

  • Graham

    April 7th, 2011 at 10:58 AM

    After I climb a flight of stairs, the last thing I honestly want is a girl rattling a tin asking for money. I’d probably give it to them so they don’t end up shoving me down the stairs. :P

  • Eddie

    April 9th, 2011 at 10:15 AM

    Nobody likes stairs. It might be the slight feeling of accomplishment that something is out of the way. There is no denying that when in the middle of a difficult task, you get agitated and in some cases aggressive. And at my age, climbing flights of stairs isn’t easy!

  • Craig H.

    April 9th, 2011 at 1:51 PM

    “Another experiment revealed that test subjects freely gave 50 percent more of their time to a questionairre after walking up a set of stairs than those who completed the same questionairre at the bottom of the stairs. ”

    Or they could just be looking for a reason to catch their breath at the top of the stairs! LOL

  • Isaac

    April 10th, 2011 at 8:16 PM

    Anyone who claims that a warm drink makes you warm to other people clearly hasn’t gotten a warm beer in a bar lately. I feel better once I have a hold of a cold drink, thank you very much!

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