It's better to give than to receive finds study

It appears the old adage 'it's better to give than to receive' holds some scientific weight. New research published in Psychosomatic Medicine has found providing support to friends and family holds health benefits for the giver.

Life scientists at the University of California noticed increased activity in reward-related regions of the brain in women when they offered help to their boyfriends who were in pain.

Naomi Eisenberger, an Assistant Professor of Psychology at UCLA, noted people tend to assume the benefits of giving help come from the assistance they receive from others, but added:

"It now seems likely that some of the health benefits of social support actually come from the support we provide to others."

Ms Eisenberger added it may also be the case that support-giving is psychologically rewarding because such behaviour increases the likelihood of human survival and so needs to be encouraged.

Dr George Fieldman, Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist and Chartered Scientist, wasn't surprised by these findings: 

"If one individual acts altruistically towards another, they increase the chance that the favour may be reciprocated, which, of course, benefits the original donor. This is called reciprocal altruism. 

"So, feeling good when giving to someone who appreciates the act, may have been part of our evolution. This could be because individual survival would have been enhanced by working in co-operative teams.

"The positive feelings experienced, may be associated with reduced stress, lower levels of cortisol and blood pressure, which, in turn is likely to be associated with improved medium and long term health."