Volunteering

Are humans genetically predisposed to be prosocial and helpful to each other? This is a question that has been of major interest to evolutionary theorists over the years. It has been argued that evolution is determined primarily by the principles of survival of the fittest.

Against this argument, however, studies of humans and other social animals showed widespread evidence of the beneficial effects of prosocial and altruistic behavior. Numerous studies reveal protective effects of volunteering on mental and physical health. Both consistency of volunteering over time and diversity of participation are significantly related to well-being and self-reported health. 

volunteer

There is evidence that doing work that serves others has mood enhancing, social-integrating, health promoting or even death delaying power. Participation in clubs and volunteer activities had a significant protective effect on mortality. Piliavin insisted that “one does well by doing good” (Pilliavine et al. 2007).

What is the bio-psychological evidence of this concept? Based on the recent findings (Babygirija et. al 2012), it is proposed that giving affection and empathy to others is a key factor in upregulating hypothalamic OXT expression. As OXT is linked to health-promoting cardiovascular, metabolic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-stress effects, upregulated OXT expression would help to maintain our mental and physical health.