Spreading the Good News

Good deeds reported in the media just might be contagious.

You are what you read, according to the results of research from the University of British Columbia published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Researchers have found that media reports of good deeds inspire people to perform good deeds. In other words, good news, in its most literal sense, has the power to plant seeds for future selfless acts.

Four separate studies at the institution identified a direct link between exposure to positive media reports about Good Samaritans and a subsequent desire to emulate the behavior. These were extraordinary acts of virtue and selflessness rather than simple volunteerism or kindness towards neighbors. In other words, positive news is nice, but people are unlikely to act on it. However, stories about people who act with enormous sacrifice, often putting themselves at risk for the sake of others, are likely to inspire action. Those most affected by the media reports were those who were identified as having a strong sense of moral identity.

The takeaway? The media has the power to impact behavior—and society—by focusing on good news rather than bad news, namely acts of extraordinary sacrifice. While you wait for the mainstream media to catch on to this phenomenon, you can find good news on the web:

  • Daily Good: The Daily Good provides news that inspires. (www.dailygood.org)
  • Happy News: Happy News provides news intended to lift spirits and inspire lives. (www.happynews.com)
  • Daryn Kagan: Daryn’s mission is to “show the world what’s possible” by sharing inspiring stories. (www.darynkagan.com)
  • Good News Network: The Good News Network is the most comprehensive collection of good news on the web and is available by subscription. (www.goodnewsnetwork.com)
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