Giving Feels Good, Even for Criminals

Katherine Hanniball and Lara Aknin: Findings highlight the human capacity to derive joy from helping others. Indeed, being generous seems to make most people happy. Even ex-offenders, who generally display a lack of concern for others, feel better after behaving generously. We think that these findings humanize offenders, showing that people who are frequently stigmatized as irredeemable are, in fact, much like the rest of us when it comes to feeling good about being generous. These results also suggest that generosity may be useful in intervention and rehabilitation programs. For example, intervention programs that offer ex-offenders the opportunity to assist other people not only model positive, prosocial actions, but they may also allow ex-offenders to recognize the emotional rewards they experience from giving.

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