ISU study finds wishing other people well could boost your own mood

Ames, Iowa – An Iowa State University study finds a simple yet powerful way to improve your mood in just minutes.

ISU Psychology Professor Douglas Gentile  says they sent about 400 students out to walk around campus following one of three instructions: when encountering others, consider either how you’re better off than them, think of things you may have in common, or simply wish them well.


The strategy isn’t complicated in the least and Gentile says it’s something we could all incorporate into our daily activities.

While the researchers figured the least promising technique would be the downward social comparison, they had higher hopes for the interconnectedness option as students strolled around campus.


The technique of wishing others well should work everyone, he says, where we’re in a long line at customer service, in clogged jam of traffic, or in a crowded elevator.

If you do something selfish, Gentile says it might bring you short-term satisfaction but likely won’t help you in the long-term.


The students who had the best results from the study were instructed to look at the people they see and think to themselves, “I wish for this person to be happy,” and they were encouraged to really mean it as they were thinking it.

The ISU study was published in the Journal of Happiness Studies.


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