Monitor on Psychology - November 2011 - (Page 12)

Upfront Selfless volunteering might lengthen your life, research suggests constraints and lack of pay,” said the study’s lead author, Sara Konrath, PhD, of the University of Michigan. Researchers examined data from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study, which has followed a random sample of 10,317 Wisconsin high school students from their graduation in 1957 until the present. The sample is 51.6 percent female, with an average age of 69.16 years in 2008. In 2004, respondents reported whether they had volunteered within the past 10 years and how regularly. They reported their reasons for volunteering (or the reasons they would volunteer, for those who had not done so) by answering 10 questions. Some motives were more oriented toward others (e.g., “I feel it is important to help others” or “Volunteering is an important activity to the people I know best”) and some were more selforiented (e.g., “Volunteering is a good escape from my own troubles” or “Volunteering makes me feel better about myself ”). The researchers also considered the respondents’ physical health, socioeconomic status, marital status, health-risk factors (such as smoking, body mass index and alcohol use), mental health and social support. Much of this information was collected in 1992, 12 years before the respondents were asked about their volunteering experience. The researchers then determined how many of the respondents were still alive in 2008. Overall, 4.3 percent of 2,384 non-volunteers were deceased four years later, which was similar to the Motivation for volunteering affects its potential benefits, research finds. proportion of deceased volunteers who reported more self-oriented motives for volunteering (4 percent). However, only 1.6 percent of those volunteers whose People who volunteer may live longer than those who don’t, as motivations were more focused on others were dead four years long as their reasons for volunteering are to help others rather later. This effect remained significant even when controlling than themselves, suggests new research published online in the for all the variables. Additionally, respondents who listed social APA journal Health Psychology. connection or altruistic values as their predominant motive This was the first time research has shown volunteers’ were more likely to be alive compared with non-volunteers. motives can have a significant impact on life span. Volunteers “It is reasonable for people to volunteer in part because lived longer than people who didn’t volunteer if they reported of benefits to the self; however, our research implies that altruistic values or a desire for social connections as the main should these benefits to the self become the main motive for reasons for wanting to volunteer, according to the study. People volunteering, they may not see those benefits,” says study cowho said they volunteered for their own personal satisfaction author Andrea Fuhrel-Forbis. had the same mortality rate four years later as people who did not volunteer at all, according to the study. —A. hAMiltoN “This could mean that people who volunteer with other people as their main motivation may be buffered from Read the full study at potential stressors associated with volunteering, such as time releases/hea-2011-17888-001.pdf. 12 M o n i to r o n p s yc h o l o g y • n ov e M b e r 2 0 1 1

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Monitor on Psychology - November 2011

Monitor on Psychology - November 2011
President’s Column
Guest Column
‘Grand Challenges’ offers blueprint for mental health research
Documentary seeks to reach parents of LGBT kids
Treating veterans will cost at least $5 billion by 2020
Selfless volunteering might lengthen your life
Combat and stress up among U.S. military in Afghanistan
South Africa to host international psychology conference
Study uncovers a reason behind sex differences in mental illness
Navy psychologist gives a voice to combat trauma
In Brief
Psychologist suicide
On Your Behalf
Journey back to Heart Mountain
Psychology is key to pain management, report finds
ACT goes international
Judicial Notebook
Random Sample
Time Capsule
Science Watch
Behavior change in 15-minute sessions?
Health-care reform 2.0
Perspective on Practice
Giving a heads up on concussion
Practice Profile
Searching for meaning
Inspiring young researchers
Aging, with grace
Public Interest
Thank you!
APA News
Division Spotlight
American Psychological Foundation
The man who gave Head Start a start

Monitor on Psychology - November 2011