Why do we self-sacrifice to help others in distress?
The social science term for this is “costly altruism” – doing something for another that comes at a cost to ourselves.
(Like, spending our money to help someone else’s child, not our own.)
At a panel on the Psychology Of Philanthropy at NYU’s Heyman Center last week, cognitive neuroscientist Oriel Feldmanhall weighed in on the importance of the “warm glow” of giving – and how the emotional satisfaction engendered by doing good for others feeds on itself, to produce more and more altruistic behavior.
In other words, getting someone to do good for others – even a small act – can make them feel so pleasant they’ll do more.