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.
© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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