Wired to be Inspired
--by DailyGood, posted Dec 19, 2006
Most theories in social sciences say that people's actions and feelings are motivated by self-interest. So here's a puzzle: why do we care when a stranger does a good deed for another stranger?
Psychologist Jonathan Haidt has been pondering this question for years. Haidt uses the phrase "elevation" to describe the warm, uplifting feeling that people experience when they see unexpected acts of human goodness, kindness or courage -- and the power of this feeling to inspire widespread compassion.
Examples of elevation exist across cultures and historical eras. While psychology has traditionally focused its energy on studying the origin and impact of negative moral emotions such as guilt and anger, Haidt's work seeks to look scientifically at the compelling effects of goodness.
Read more at http://peacecenter.berkeley.edu/greatergood/archive/2005springsummer/SpringSummer05_Haidt.pdf