One way to pleasure is through concrete, specific goals of benevolence – like making someone smile or increasing recycling – rather than pursuing similar but more abstract goals – like making someone happy or conserving the environment. The reason is that when you go after framed goals concretely, your targets of success are more likely to be met the truth is. On the other hand, broad and abstract goals may result in pleasure’ dark part – unrealistic goals.

Those will be the conclusions of a study recently released in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology by Jennifer Aaker, a social psychologist and the overall Atlantic Professor of Marketing at Stanford Graduate School of Business. Co-authors are Melanie Rudd, an assistant professor of marketing at the University of Houston, and Michael Norton, a co-employee teacher of business at Harvard University. Rudd, who analyzed under Aaker at Stanford as a doctoral pupil, was the business-lead author on the scholarly study. As the researchers point out, the quest for happiness is one of the very most essential quests in life, and happiness is often considered a hallmark of psychological health.

But it is more inexplicable and complicated than most people might envision – rather than always readily possible. One underappreciated way to increase one’s own pleasure is to concentrate on elevating the pleasure of others. But, how exactly do you do this? Are some acts of benevolence better in a position to increase personal happiness than others? To answer this question, the researchers conducted six experiments involving 543 folks from laboratory studies and national survey pools. The level of abstraction of your respective “prosocial” goal was the critical factor of interest.

Prosocial works are thought as voluntary behavior intended to benefit another person. The answer: Helping someone find a donor led to more happiness for the giver. This, the research workers wrote, was powered by givers’ perceptions that their actual acts better met their targets of achieving their goal of assisting another person.

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Rudd, Aaker, and Norton show these “happiness results” are credited to smaller gaps between one’s expectations of achieving the goal and the actual result when one’s goal is framed more concretely. Simply, the greater abstract goals are more unrealistic often. Is prosociality a good goal to chase always? According to this scholarly study, the answer is: This will depend.

Sometimes people pursue prosociality in a way that is significantly less than optimal. But, stimulating givers to “reframe their prosocial goals in more concrete terms” would allow anticipations to be better calibrated, increasing personal pleasure, the researchers argue. Givers will probably experience greater happiness if they body their prosocial goals in concrete rather than abstract terms, according to the authors. The results have implications for the world of business.

For example, marketing or products that declare to help consumers achieve abstractly framed goals – like making another person happy – may not be the best business decision. Instead, it could be wiser to reframe these promised goals in more specific, concrete terms. Consider, for example, Tom’s Shoes. The business claims that if a person buys a pair of shoes, they will deliver another set to a kid in need.

Ultimately, people seek to be happy, and one clear route toward pleasure is through prosocial behaviors. The researchers hope that future work will yield a deeper knowledge of how to harvest pleasure – such as by assisting others – and how to avoid any unhappiness traps on the way. Sometimes, people pursue joy ineffectively – such as giving to well-intentioned but broadly described causes – which may leave them dissatisfied.