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HHS Healthbeat

Fearing death, doing good

From the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, I’m Ira Dreyfuss with HHS HealthBeat.

Researchers say that having to think about death can bring out the good in people. At the University of Missouri, Kenneth Vail reviewed experiments involving thinking about death, and assessments of how people who were not directly involved in catastrophes responded after learning about them.

Vail says people commonly felt a need to reach out to others, and often did reach out. He describes some of those reactions:

“Seeking comfort from loved ones, and striving to uphold important values that help restore the perception that the world is a predictable and benevolent place.”

Vail says this includes wanting to be tolerant and compassionate.

The study in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Review was supported by the National Institutes of Health.

Learn more at healthfinder.gov.

HHS HealthBeat is a production of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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