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New study fails to find any psychological benefits of volunteering

15 March 2017

A new study searches in vain for evidence to support the mental health benefits of volunteering, but that doesn't necessarily mean that you should stop.

Volunteer! Universities, community groups and even the NHS recommend it, citing benefits for society and also yourself.

The claimed personal outcomes include boosting your health and subjective wellbeing, but while the former is slowly gathering experimental backing, the wellbeing research is overwhelmingly correlational, making it hard to prove that volunteering is causing the gains (it’s certainly plausible, for instance, that happier people are simply more inclined to give up their time for free).

Now the journal Comprehensive Results in Social Psychology has published a more robust test: a randomised study. The researchers looked for evidence to support the mental wellbeing benefits from volunteering … but they looked in vain.

Read more on our Research Digest blog.

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