Why asking for help is easier than you think and actually helps others to live longer

I just found this interesting bit on the PsyBlog: “Ask for help, but don’t ask for too much”. People notoriously underestimated how likely others were to help them by as much as 100%. The reasons are our difficulty to think like another person (egocentric bias) and the social pressure the other person is put under.

There’s two very practical messages coming out of this research:

1. If you want help, just ask. People are much more likely to help than you think, especially if the request is relatively small. Most people take pleasure in helping others out from time-to-time.

2. Make it easy for others to say no. The other side of the coin is that most of us don’t realise just how hard it is to say no to a request for help. Other people feel much more pressure to say yes to our requests than we realise. If the help you need is likely to be burdensome then think about ways of making it easier to say no.

I’d like to add more interesting facts:

  • other studies have shown that helping actually makes people feel better that being helped
  • older adults helping others are healthier and live longer

In fact studies by the Institute for Social Research (ISR) from 2002 showed that older people reduce their risk of dying by nearly 60 % compared to peers who provide neither practical help nor emotional support to relatives, neighbors or friends.

Well – to me those studies suggest two things:

  • If you’re young and clueless or just in a bad spot do ask for help. It’s not only that your problem will most likely be solved because others usually say yes, but at the same time you help another person to feel better and live longer
  • you might learn something (from asking) that you, once you get older, can use to help others – extending your own lifetime and improving your health significantly.

What more could we ask for?

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