Paying it Forward is Scientific.

The term “pay it forward” is an expression that describes a chain reaction of altruism where the beneficiary of a kind act decides to “repay” the kindness they received by being kind or helping out an additional person. Rather than repaying the initial act of service to the original altruistic helper, the beneficiary feels compelled to continue the chain of impromptu kindness to another, often random person (and so on, and so on). While most reading this will undoubtedly be familiar with the term, many would be surprised to learn that numerous behavioral researchers scientifically prove the expression and premise on which it is based.  

Scientifically Proven

According to several separately conducted studies, recipients of kindness are often filled with endorphins and are thus, biologically compelled to “keep them paying it forward.” 

For example, James Fowler, medical genetics and political science professor at the University of California, found that one act of kindness typically inspired what he calls “upstream reciprocity. Otherwise known as a domino effect of one person’s random act of kindness that compels a chain of people to continue similar acts to other random people, upstream reciprocity can be started by the single small act of one person.  

Why Does it Feel Good to Pay it Forward?

Well, as altruistic as giving to your fellow man may seem, it’s technically not without its benefits for the giver. According to Emory University's research, when a person is kind to a person, the brain’s pleasure center (aka, the nucleus accumbens) releases dopamine. This release of dopamine actually rewards the person who committed the good deed as if they were actually the recipient of said good deed. This phenomenon is so powerful, in fact, that psychologists have coined it as a “helper’s high.” 

So it shouldn't come as much of a surprise to learn that a Harvard study on happiness (that included over 100 countries) concluded that those who the most charitable with their finances to be the happiest. 

To Read the Original Article in Its Entirety, Click The Link Below!

The Science of Giving: Why One Act of Kindness is Usually Followed by Another


However, the circle of generosity doesn't end there—in fact, it's exponentially bigger. Recipients of kindness generally want to keep paying it forward, says James Fowler, professor of medical genetics and political science at the University of California, San Diego. In fact, in one of Fowler's studies, he found that a single act of kindness typically inspired several more acts of generosity. The scientific name for this chain of altruism is “upstream reciprocity.” Still, you can think of it as a domino effect of warm and fuzzy feelings: If you drop a quarter into an expired parking meter, the recipient of that small act of generosity will be inspired to do a kind act for someone else, and on and on.

About the Author:
Cristopher Rogers
Cristopher Rogers

Content writer

As a former troubled teen and recovering addict, Cris has...

As a former troubled teen and recovering addict, Cris has dedicated the last 12 years to blogging about America's mental health and drug...