Expressive Writing Encourages Helpers to Do More

Today’s article written by Kim Toebbe, Volunteer Coordinator

According to Zeitgeist News, when researchers Adam Grant of The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and Jane Dutton of The Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan sought to understand what factors, might influence pro-social behavior they experimented with reflection, in the form of expressive writing. The researchers observed that when we reflect on what we’ve received from another person, we may tend to feel obliged or indebted to that person but not necessarily to other people.

On the other hand when research participants wrote reflections about times when they have donated, volunteered or otherwise helped people or animals they became much more likely to want to increase our pro-social activities.  Expressive writing about times we have helped others makes us want to help more.

Those who journal or keep a diary-about their volunteer and charitable pursuits may find that these reflections help keep them motivated to act pro-socially in other ways.  As an informal experiment, I encourage you to try keeping a journal of reflections especially in relation to your tzedakah, tikkun olam, mitzvah and good deeds.  Reflect after a period of time, maybe a month or two whether the journal writing has affected your volunteer or donor activity.  Feel free to share your findings with me!



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