Helping and Well-Being
Two broad research domains are reviewed to evaluate the counterintuitive idea that helping another can produce higher physical and psychological well-being in the helper. Research that examines the association between helping and helper longevity and mental health, as well as research that examines the experimental manipulation of helping on helper well-being suggest helping others can indeed enhance helper well-being. However, whether helping is expected to enhance helper well-being likely depends on (1) the degree of cost incurred by the act of helping, (2) the nature of the motivation spurring the helping act, and (3) whether the ultimate goal of the motivation is successfully achieved. A motivational, strain-satisfaction theoretical model is proposed to explain the conditions under which helping others will enhance helper well-being and when helping others will reduce helper well-being.