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Should you give money to beggars?
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Helper's High

Scientists and psychologists have discovered that doing good deeds causes people to biologically feel good. The brain releases "feel-good" neurotransmitters when you give charitably, in a cycle that psychologists call "the helper's high."
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Many assume that humans are selfish by nature. If humans are selfish by nature, then giving to the poor is not a natural act. However, giving to the poor can make us feel good. Doing good deeds is related to a whole host of health benefits, including weight control, blood pressure, chronic pain, and depression.[1][2] Perhaps we should give to the poor because it is mutually beneficial for the giver and the one in need.

The Argument

People who are financially stable should give to the poor because of the good feelings that come with being generous.[3] Several scientific studies have shown that altruistic actions cause good feelings in the brain and reduce stress.[4] In one study, researchers found that helping others reduced the association between stress and mortality. In other words, helping others increased people’s life expectancy by lowering stress.[5] Another study found that giving to a charity through a friend or relative made donors feel happier than giving anonymously to a charity. Specifically, giving money to others had the greatest happiness when the giving was part of a personal, social connection.[6]According to that study, giving to a homeless person in-person rather than giving to a charity can cause the most happiness. Giving to the poor for the purpose of feeling good may seem like a selfish reason to give. Still, regardless of whether the giver’s motive is selfish, the person in need receives a material benefit, and the giver receives an internal benefit. In another study, two researchers proposed a theory that people feel good by helping others not because we want to avoid negative circumstances but because our brains reward altruistic behaviors.[7] The researchers (Zaki and Mitchell 2011) found that making decisions for the benefit of others stimulated the brain reward the giver, even if the choice to help others was more materially beneficial. Results from that study show that altruistic behavior has intrinsic rewards.

Counter arguments

It may make you feel good to give in the moment, but if you are conflicted about whether it was the right decision you may ultimately feel worse.


Rejecting the premises

Giving to beggars is not a good deed and as such will not make you feel good.


This page was last edited on Sunday, 14 Jun 2020 at 23:56 UTC