You are on page 1of 14

Page |1

Exploring the relation between altruism and


depression
Student name

Student Number

University of West Sydney


Page |2

Table of Contents

1.0 INTRODUCTION .................................................................................................................... 3

1.1 Rationale for the study .......................................................................................................... 6

1.2 Aim of the study .................................................................................................................... 7

1.3 Hypothesis ............................................................................................................................. 7

2.0 METHOD ................................................................................................................................. 8

2.1 Participants ............................................................................................................................ 8

2.2 Procedure ............................................................................................................................... 8

3.0 ANTICIPATED RESULTS ...................................................................................................... 8

4.0 DISCUSSION ........................................................................................................................... 9

5.0 REFERENCES ....................................................................................................................... 12


Page |3

1.0 INTRODUCTION
Social factors contributing to depression have been a major topic for researchers with the goal to
devise treatment procedures through critical understanding. Over the past thirty to forty years,
the prevalence of depression has increased all over the world and receiving social support from
others has been identified as a strong influence in the progressive development of depression. It
is self-explanatory that with the process of ageing, social involvement is gradually lost and
hence, chances of engagement in pro social activities are increased which creates a space for
developing life satisfaction and promoting psychological health leading to fewer chances of
depression (Brown, Nesse, Vinokur& Smith, 2003).

From the findings of the earlier research studies it could be said that there is a significant impact
of the environment on the depression. It is also known that getting proper social support have a
protective impact on the depression. But there is very little knowledge that is available in the
existing research work regarding the protective impact of providing support to the other people
like that of having an altruistic behavior (Levine, 2007). Though there has been research
conducted in the past, signifying that there is a positive effect of the altruistic behavior on the
physical health and well being of the people, but there is dearth in the studies that signifies the
relationship between altruism or altruistic behavior and the depression. In the case of the case of
this research study the researcher has determined the association between altruism and the
depression. The hypothesis which has been analyzed/ tested in this research study will help in
understanding why altruism is effective in protecting against any form of depression.

In the recent times there has been rise in the case of the depression which is not completely
explained by the rise in the awareness and the better diagnosis. Due to the rise in the depression
level among the people of different age groups in the society, there is an increasing discussion
among the researchers and health practitioners to determine the influences which is causing the
rise in the depression levels in the society (Scott, Ciarrochi and Deane, 2004). Social factors are
one of the major influencing factors of depression. It is perceived that getting proper social
support could have a significant influence on the development and the progression of depression
in the society. But there is little evidence regarding the influence that providing support to others
have on depression.
Page |4

Altruism is one of the manner in which help could be provided to the others. In its different
forms it has been found that altruism has a positive impact on the helpers. Researcher studies like
that of conducted by Post (2005) have shown that by engaging in the altruistic activities there is a
positive impact on the physical and mental health.

It has been found through the different empirical studies that has been conducted in the past that
the depression is significantly influenced by the etiological risks, along with those of the
biological and the psychological factors and hence it is important to acknowledge the distinct
impact that depression as it is appearing universally across different regions and demography.
The social risks that are faced could be of different types. In their research work Brown and
Harris (1978) found that the central features of depression are relational loss and
disappointments that are faced due to the different events in life. The researchers also found that
there are several social risks that are either related to each other or are inter connected. The
researcher also found that the influence of the individualistic culture in several countries in the
world is also the rising cause of depression in the society. For example in the case of developed
countries like that of US, the individualistic culture has resulted in the isolation of one individual
from another and people place more emphasis on one self than others.

In his research study Levine (2007), noted that the depression is less prevalent in those societies
which paid little emphasis on technology and consumerism and more emphasis is being laid on
community and family. Similarly, Scott, Ciarrochi, and Deane (2004) found that the idiocentrism
in their research participants was mainly related to the smaller or significant social support
networks along with the higher degree of hopelessness and suicidal concepts. Thus on the lines
of the above mentioned research work it could be said that one social factor which is strongly
connected with the other factors is that of social support. Thus the relationship between the
social support and depression has become a hot topic for the researchers. Researchers have found
that social support could act as a buffer against depression as it would help in preventing a
person from experiences of loss, disconnection and isolation. In their research work Dean and
Ensel (1982) found that among the different social variables that has been evaluated by them like
that of the events in life, social and self-competence, they found that social support is one of the
most significant predictor of depression irrespective of the age and gender.
Page |5

Altruism is a widely researcher issue and there is proper understanding in the research
community regarding the situations in which this behavior is likely to occur and the individuals
who are most likely to experience this and different theories regarding why it happened. But
there is lack of research work which has analysed the click advantage of this behavior and its
positive impact on the mood of a person. The current research work on altruism is mostly
concerned with the impact of altruism on the mental health of a person and there is lack of
considerable supporting document regarding the relation between altruism and depression. By
identifying the relationship between altruism and the mechanisms which are involved in the
relationship, it is possible to achieve significant clinical and societal benefits. In order to treat
depression the health practitioners normally encourage to follow the different coping
mechanisms so as that depression could be addressed. From the different studies conducted on
the treatment of depression it has been found that behavioral activation could help in the
reduction of the severity of the depressions among the patients.

According to Baston (2011), altruism could be defined as a motivational state with the ultimate
goal of increasing anothers welfare. According to Baston (2011), the motivation should be
directed towards specific goal instead of being impulsive and there should not be any hidden
agenda just one goals which has to be focused on. There are different external and the internal
benefits of Altruism which has been determined by earlier researchers through empirical studies.
According to the research work which was conducted by Hardy and Van Vugt (2006), those who
show altruistic behavior are tend to enjoy higher status in the groups and are generally more
preferred for cooperation as an interactive partner. Baston and Ahmad (2001), found in their
research work that altruism helps in increasing the cooperation and care in the case of the
conflict situations which leads to the benefit of all the parties who are involved. Further in the
research study which has been done by Crocker and Canvello (2008), the researchers found that
the individuals having altruistic motives are more likely to get better social support for
himself/herself.

On internal benefits, it could be said that the altruism activities are found to reduce the
aggression in the helping individual. In the research work conducted by Harmon-Jones et al.
(2004), it has been found that when person have emphatic concern then it could possibly reduce
the desire to act or have a an aggressive feeling. In different research work like that of Musick,
Page |6

Herzog, and House (1999) and Moen, Dempster-McCain, and Williams (1993), it could be found
that moderate levels of volunteerism could reduce the risk of death. But the research conducted
by Post (2005) found that the too much of altruism behavior could have a detrimental impact and
could possibly off set the benefits of the activity. Further Brown et al. (2003), found that there is
strong association between the reduction in the risk of dying and providing help to others. Thus,
the findings of these researchers showed that the altruism behavior was protective in reducing the
mortality but not social support.

In the research study conducted by Bode et al., (2009), it was found that the individuals showing
altruistic behavior show better physical health. Research work conducted by Dulin and Hill
(2003) found that there uis positive effect of altruism on the emotionality of the people. In the
research study done by Dulin et al. (2001), the researcher examined the relationship between the
altruism and the life satisfaction. The researcher conducted the research among the different age
groups and the income groups in the community and found that people in the those communities
which undertakes community services for altruistic reasons rather than the financial reasons are
more likely to remain satisfied in life. In another research work conducted by Schwartz et al.
(2009), In the case of the male adolescents , family helping was mainly related to positive social
relations, purpose in life and self-acceptance where as in the case of the female adolescents,
family helping was mainly related to positive social relations and having purpose in life.
Furthermore, Benson et al. (2007) in their research work found that the prosocial activities like
that of the undertaking community services in the adolescents are generally related to their
school success, leadership overcoming the adversities and the delaying the gratification.

In the current literature there is dearth of research work on relationship between altruism and
depression with clear descriptions. Though there has been several research work which has been
conducted that have identified there is positive relationship that exist between the altruism and
the lower rates of depressions. In their research work Musick and Wilson (2003), determines the
relationship between volunteerism and depression. The researcher found that volunteerism was
associated with depression rates among the people with more than 65 years of age but the
researcher could not find any significant relationship in the case of the younger generation of
people. Similarly in the research work which was conducted by Brown et al. (2008), those
Page |7

participants who are suffering from high loss-related grief, have shown rapid decline in their
depression symptoms due to their association with helping activity.

1.1 Rationale for the study


Altruistic attitude contributing to altruism and altruistic behavior is one personality trait which is
not dependent upon age, gender, or any materialistic or sociological resourcefulness. However,
altruistic behavior has been approached as such behavior within a person which benefits the
receiver and this is often performed at the cost or risk of physical, materialistic, or psychological
issues. For example sociological sacrifice. Thus, altruistic behavior, although putting the
caregiver in a psychological position where he/she values the added sacrifices, the same can be
the cause of depressive syndromes due to the sacrifices associated being of larger sociological or
physiological magnitude.

1.2 Aim of the study


The fundamental aim of this study is to uncover the correlation of altruistic attitude and
depression and develop critical understanding of how altruism can influence depressive
syndrome in a person. According to the Aim of the study the objectives are as follows-

To explore the relationship of altruistic attitude and depression among individuals


To what extent altruistic attitude negatively or positively impacted Generalized Anxiety
Disorder (GAD) and major Depression (MD).
To establish critical understanding of altruistic attitude to provide better care facilities to
the patient suffering from depression

1.3 Hypothesis
The hypothesis are as follows-

Null Hypothesis (H0):Altruistic behavior has a negative protective effect on Generalized


Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and major Depression (MD).

Alternative Hypothesis (H1):Altruistic behavior has a positive protective effect on Generalized


Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and major Depression (MD).
Page |8

2.0 METHOD

2.1 Participants
The participants will be selected from a sample comprising 100 people selected from a
community of retired people who could be safely considered to be in their late years of their life,
particularly above the age of 60 years. A community residential background will be chosen in
order to ensure that the social life of the participants was active and healthy and do not cloud the
results of the study. Residential setup will also ensure that there are no social support services
that could affect the altruistic behavior and the relevant effect on depression("Altruistic
adolescents less likely to become depressed, study says", 2017). The inclusion criteria comprised
a lower age limit of 60 years and their confidence in their health in presenting honest opinions
and answers at interviews that could continue for up to an hour. Out of the 100 participants to be
sampled, 67 will be male and 33 will be female.

2.2 Procedure
To assess the responses of the sampled participants, four dependent variables representing the
psychological well-being outcomes will be selected; namely the life satisfaction of the
participants, the positive effect of altruism, the negative effects of altruism, and the depressive
symptomatology. This will be important considering the specific nature of the responses that are
to be expected from the participants in order to assess their altruistic behavioral side and their
depressive symptomatology. T- Test procedure will be carried out to statistically establish and
verify the results for validation with coherence to the hypothesis of this study.

3.0 ANTICIPATED RESULTS


The positive and negative effect will be evaluated through PANAS and Likert scale, the findings
of which are anticipated to direct up on a greater level on the scale of negative and positive
effect. The dependent variable of depressive symptomatology can be measured with the
admission of feeling of specific set of emotions from given choices.

Description and validity

With the help of Chi-Square test, the collected data would be analyzed and developed hypothesis
testing would be carried out which would facilitate the overall outcome of the study. Thus, the
Page |9

Altruistic behavior has a negative protective effect on Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and
major Depression (MD) would be rationale and justified with evidences and further it would be
helpful for the psychologist to provide appropriate guidance to the suffering patience for
managing anxiety disorder control as well as cope up with depression effectively.

4.0 DISCUSSION
The research methodology has been designed in such a way and the data collection method
through the implementation of dependent variables will lead to the participants having the option
to choose from a set of feelings or emotions which is much closer and accurate to uncover
depressive symptomatology (Hemingway & Jack, 2013). Based up on the development of
literature and in coherence with the hypothetical assumption, measurement of Altruistic behavior
and the prevalence of GAD and MD will be validated through T- Test which tends to validate the
hypothesis of a weak or strong protective association of Altruistic Behavior with GAD and MD.

There are lot of research studies which has been conducted in the past that shows that there is a
positive impact of the altruism on the mental as well as the physical health of an individual (Post,
2005). Though the earlier research work points out that there is a relationship between the
altruism behavior and depression but the findings of those research work are not completely
conclusive in nature. Thus key objective of this research study is to, explore the relationship of
altruistic attitude and depression among individuals, to understand up to what extent altruistic
attitude negatively or positively impacted Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and major
Depression (MD) and to establish critical understanding of altruistic attitude to provide better
care facilities to the patient suffering from depression.

In the case of this research study it has been found that the manner in which altruism have a
positive impact on depression is dependent upon the psychological and the social mechanisms.
The depression is easily predicted from the overburden felt by the individuals by taking part in
the altruistic activities, the level of the social interactions and the sense of life satisfaction and
the purpose which has been achieved from the different altruistic activities. Through the research
work it was found that the longer duration of involvement or frequent involvement in the
altruistic activities could have a positive impact on lowering the rates of depression among the
individuals. Taking into congnizance of the findings of the research study, it could be said that
P a g e | 10

this research study provided valuable support to develop an understanding regarding the manner
in which altruism could have a positive impact on lowering the rates of depression and also
determined the psychological and the social processes which are associated with the altruistic
actrivities and are related to depression.

Though this research work provided significant support to the existing literature on altruism and
its relationship with depression but the limitations of this research work is related to sample size
taken for this research work, limitations associated with inferring causality and the
characteristics of the materials used for assessments.
P a g e | 11
P a g e | 12

5.0 REFERENCES
1. Altruistic adolescents less likely to become depressed, study says.

(2017). ScienceDaily. Retrieved 1 September 2017, from

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140424102839.htm

2. Baston, C. (2011). Altruism in humans. New York: Oxford University Press.

3. Baston, C. and Ahmad, N. (2001). Empathy-induced altruism in a prisoners dilemma

II: What if the target of empathy has defected?. European Journal of Social

Psychology, 31, pp.25-36.

4. Benson, P. L., Clary, E. G., & Scales, P. C. (2007). Altruism and health: Is there a

link during adolescence? In S. G. Post (Ed.), Altruism & health (pp. 97115). New

York: Oxford

5. Bode, R., Schwartz, C., Keyl, P. and Marcum, J. (2009). Helping others shows

differential benefits on health and well-being for male and female teens. Journal of

Happiness Studies, 10, pp.431-448.

6. Brown, G. and Harris, T. (1978). Social origins of depression. New York: The Free

Press.

7. Brown, S., Nesse, R., Vinokur, A., & Smith, D. (2003). Providing Social Support

May Be More Beneficial Than Receiving It. Psychological Science, 14(4), 320-327.

http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1467-9280.14461
P a g e | 13

8. Brown, S., Vonokur, R., Nesse, A. and Smith, D. (2003). Providing social support

may be more beneficial than receiving it: Results from a prospective study of

mortality. Psychological Science, 14, pp.320-327.

9. Crocker, J. and Canevello, A. (2008). Creating and undermining social support in

communal relationships: The role of compassionate and self-image goals. ournal of

Personality and Social Psychology, 95, pp.555-575.

10. Dean, A. and Ensel, W. (1982). Modeling social support, life events, competence, and

depression in the context of age and sex. Journal of Community Psychology, 10,

pp.392-408.

11. Hardy, C. and Van Vugt, M. (2006). Nice guys finish first: The competitive altruism

hypothesis. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 32(10), pp.1402-1413.

12. Harmon-Jones, E., Vaugn-Scott, K., Mohr, S., Sigelman, J. and Harmon-Jones, C.

(2004). The effect of manipulated sympathy and anger on left and right front cortical

activity. Emotion, 4, pp.95-101.

13. Hemingway, A., & Jack, E. (2013). Reducing social isolation and promoting well

being in older people. Quality In Ageing And Older Adults, 14(1), 25-35.

http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/14717791311311085

14. Levine, B. (2007). Surviving Americas depression epidemic. Vermont: Chelsea

Green Publishing Company.

15. Moen, P., Dempster-McCain, D. and Williams, R. (1993). Successful

aging. American Journal of Sociology, 97, pp.1612-1632.


P a g e | 14

16. Musick, M., Herzog., A. and House, J. (1999). Volunteering and mortality among

older adults: Findings from a national sample. Journals of Gerontology Series B-

Psychological Sciences Social Sciences, 54(3), pp.173-180.

17. Post, S. (2005). Altruism, happiness, and health: Its good to be good. International

Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 12(2), pp.66-77.

18. Scott, G., Ciarrochi, J. and Deane, F. (2004). Disadvantages of being an individualist

in an individualistic culture: Idiocentrism, emotional competence, stress, and mental

health. Australian Psychologist, 39(2), pp.143-153.