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The Happiness Lab with Dr. Laurie Santos

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Season 2

Psychopaths and Superheroes
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We talk a lot about psychopaths - but rarely discuss their polar opposites, super-altruists. These are people who go to extreme lengths to help others — even though their acts of kindness might cost them time, money or expose them to physical danger. These folk are also happier than the rest of us.

A super altruist once saved the life of psychology professor Abigail Marsh — so she devoted her career to understanding what drives these amazing and happy people and how we call all learn to be more like them.

To learn more. . .

Abby Marsh's Website

Abby Marsh TED talk

Liz Dunn website

Liz Dunn book

Links to references from this episode:

 “Abby’s done some elegant work exploring why psychopaths have a problem recognizing others’ distress.”

Marsh, A. A. "What can we learn about emotion by studying psychopathy?." Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 7 (2013): 181-185.

“Patients in end stage renal failure often wait three to five years to get a kidney from a deceased donor”

https://www.kidneyfund.org/kidney-disease/kidney-failure/treatment-of-kidney-failure/kidney-transplant/deceased-donor-transplant.html

“Of course, Abby’s results showed that kidney donors were wrong. They were different, at least when it came to their brains.”

Marsh, A. A., Stoycos, S. A., Brethel-Haurwitz, K. M., Robinson, P., VanMeter, J. W., & Cardinale, E. M. (2014). Neural and cognitive characteristics of extraordinary altruists. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(42), 15036-15041.

“On the show Tom and Donna observed “treat yo self” day every October 16. It’s now become a cultural phenomena”

https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/entertainthis/2016/10/13/parks-rec-fans-happy-treat-yo-self-day/92000102/

“Even when we look in pretty diverse regions of the world, in fact in all seven major regions of the world we find this relationship whereby people who donate money to charity are happier than those who don't.”

Dunn, E. W., *Aknin, L. B., & Norton, M. I. (2014). Prosocial spending and happiness: Using money to benefit others pays off. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 13(2), 347-355.

 “Liz and her colleagues decided to test this in a rather simple experiment”

Dunn, E. W., *Aknin, L. B., & Norton, M. I. (2008). Spending money on others promotes happiness. Science, 319, 1687-1688.

“Liz and her colleagues have now replicated this same effect in people all over the world, in Canada, India, Uganda and even remote villages on the islands of Vanuatu.”

Dunn, E. W., *Aknin, L. B., & Norton, M. I. (2014). Prosocial spending and happiness: Using money to benefit others pays off. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 13(2), 347-355.

“Lara Aknin and I teamed up with Kiley Hamlin, who's a developmental psychologist, and brought toddlers just under the age of two into the lab.”

Aknin, L. B., Hamlin, J.K. & Dunn, E. W. (2012). Giving leads to happiness in young children. PLoS ONE, 7(6), e39211