+
Joy

Feel-good study shows Americans are more likely to help a stranger now than in the '50s

The reasons probably aren't what you think.

americans help strangers, is america getting better, america is great
via Pexels

A man helps a man in a walker exit a car.

These days, when someone does a good deed it’s common for people to react by saying, “It’s great to see there are still some good people in this world.” The implicit message is that Americans used to be more helpful to one another but at some point in history things changed and we stopped looking out for our neighbors.

It’s easy to think that way given the media’s negativity bias and all the talk about living in a “divided country” where we are pitted against one another because of race, sexual orientation, political views, economic status, region and religion.

However, a new study published in American Psychological Association’s Psychological Bulletin has found that Americans are more likely to help a stranger now than they were in the 1950s.


"Many people believe U.S. society is becoming less socially connected, less trusting and less committed to the common good," Yu Kou, the lead author of the study and a professor of social psychology at Beijing Normal University, said in a press release.

The researchers analyzed 511 studies conducted between 1956 and 2017 that featured more than 63,000 participants. The meta-analysis found a gradual increase in cooperation among strangers of 19.81% across the 61 years.

“One intriguing implication of these findings is that while Americans’ cooperation has increased over time, their beliefs about others’ willingness to cooperate has actually declined,” the journal article states.

via Pexels

The notion that Americans are more cooperative with one another in 2022 than they were in the 1950s may come as a shock to those who relish the idea that America was at its greatest when the country was more homogeneous and rural.

The reason we’ve become more cooperative with one another will also bother those who feel the country has become more callous because of an increase in individualism. The study points out that an increase in individualism and urbanization may be the biggest reason that we’ve become nicer.

The study notes that “individualists are more likely to interact with strangers” and have a “greater generalized trust in others.” It also cites prior research that “has already found that individualists, compared to collectivists, are more likely to cooperate when interacting with strangers.”

States with a greater number of individualists also “tend to have higher levels of general trust, more donations to charity, and more time spent on volunteering for the community.”

The study provides a much-needed counternarrative to the popular notion that America is on an irreversible moral decline and that we lack the cohesiveness to solve the country's most important issues.

"If this optimism has some realism, then we are in a much better position to tackle national and global challenges that take the form of public goods, such as the management of refugees, responses to a pandemic, reducing climate change, and the conservation of resources,” according to the journal article.

The findings are a great example of why we should all be more skeptical about the narratives that those in power use to try and shape our collective reality. But more importantly, it gives us another reason to celebrate and promote America’s original promise that the more diverse the country becomes and the freer we feel to pursue our own individuality, the greater things can be for everyone.

I bet that if we started telling Americans the real story about our country we'd do a much better job at setting differences aside and fixing our most pressing problems.

Nature

Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave that’s been closed for 70 years

You can only access the cave from the basement of the home and it’s open for business.

This Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave.

Have you ever seen something in a movie or online and thought, "That's totally fake," only to find out it's absolutely a real thing? That's sort of how this house in Pennsylvania comes across. It just seems too fantastical to be real, and yet somehow it actually exists.

The home sits between Greencastle and Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, and houses a pretty unique public secret. There's a cave in the basement. Not a man cave or a basement that makes you feel like you're in a cave, but an actual cave that you can't get to unless you go through the house.

Turns out the cave was discovered in the 1830s on the land of John Coffey, according to Uncovering PA, but the story of how it was found is unclear. People would climb down into the cave to explore occasionally until the land was leased about 100 years later and a small structure was built over the cave opening.

Keep ReadingShow less
Health

This company makes it easier than ever to enjoy guilt-free fairly traded coffee

Thanks to Lifeboost, good coffee can be good for everyone.

Unsplash

Lifeboost coffee

Americans love coffee. Like, we really, seriously, truly love it. According to one recent survey, 75 percent of U.S. adults drink coffee at least occasionally, while 53 percent—about 110 million people—drink it every single day. For some, coffee is an essential part of their morning ritual. For others, it’s something they enjoy when they hit the proverbial wall in the late afternoon. But either way, millions of people use coffee to boost energy, focus, and productivity.


Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

13-year-old ventriloquist sings incredible, sassy version of 'You Don't Own Me' on 'AGT'

Ana-Maria Mărgean only started her hobby in 2020 and is already wowing audiences on "America's Got Talent."

America's Got Talent/Youtube

Ana-Maria Mărgean singing "You Don't Own Me" on "America's Got Talent"

It’s not every day a ventriloquist act is so jaw-dropping that it has to be seen to be believed. But when it does happen, it’s usually on “America’s Got Talent.”

Ana-Maria Mărgean was only 11 years old when she first took to the stage on “Romania’s Got Talent” to show off her ventriloquism skills, an act inspired by videos of fellow ventriloquist and “America’s Got Talent” Season 2 champion Terry Fator.

Using puppets built for her by her parents, the young performer tirelessly spent her quarantine time in 2020 learning how to bring them to life, which led to her receiving a Golden Buzzer and eventually winning the entire series in Romania.

Mărgean is now 13 and a competitor on this season of “America’s Got Talent: All-Stars,” hoping to be crowned the winner and perform her own show in Vegas, just like her hero Fator.

Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

Linda Ronstadt's 1970's ballad is a chart-topping hit once again thanks to 'The Last of Us'

The iconic 70s song "Long, Long Time" was an integral part of an unforgettable episode that fans are calling a masterpiece.

Linda Ronstadt (left), Nick Offerman and Murray Bartlett (right)

HBO’s emotional third episode of the zombie series “The Last Of Us” became an instant favorite among fans, thanks in no small part to Linda Ronstadt’s late 1970s ballad, “Long, Long Time.”

Using the song as the episode’s title, “Long, Long Time,” moves away from the show’s main plot to instead focus on a heartbreakingly beautiful love story between Bill (Nick Offerman) and Frank (Murray Bartlett), from its endearing start all the way to its bittersweet end.

The song makes its first appearance during the initial stages of Bill and Frank’s romance as they play the tune on the piano, just before they share their first kiss.

We see their entire lives together play out—one of closeness, devotion, and savoring homegrown strawberries—until they meet their end. The song then plays on the radio, bringing the bottle episode to a poignant close.

Keep ReadingShow less
Joy

34-year-old man is learning to read on TikTok in series of motivational videos

His reading skills have improved so much that he plans to read 100 books this year.

@oliverspeaks1/TikTok

Oliver James is the biggest star on BookTok.

With over 125,000 followers, 34-year-old Oliver James is a star in the BookTok community. And it all started with a very simple goal: Learn to read.

For most kids, school is a place where they can develop a relationship with learning in a safe environment. For James, school was the opposite. Growing up with learning and behavior disabilities subjected him to abusive teaching practices in special education, which, of course, did nothing to help.

"The special education system at the time was more focused on behavioral than educating," he told Good Morning America. "So they spent a lotta time restraining us, a lotta time disciplining us, a lotta times putting us in positions to kinda shape us to just not act out in class."

Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

Buffy Sainte-Marie shares what led to her openly breastfeeding on 'Sesame Street' in 1977

The way she explained to Big Bird what she was doing is still an all-time great example.

"Sesame Street" taught kids about life in addition to letters and numbers.

In 1977, singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie did something revolutionary: She fed her baby on Sesame Street.

The Indigenous Canadian-Ameican singer-songwriter wasn't doing anything millions of other mothers hadn't done—she was simply feeding her baby. But the fact that she was breastfeeding him was significant since breastfeeding in the United States hit an all-time low in 1971 and was just starting to make a comeback. The fact that she did it openly on a children's television program was even more notable, since "What if children see?" has been a key pearl clutch for people who criticize breastfeeding in public.

But the most remarkable thing about the "Sesame Street" segment was the lovely interchange between Big Bird and Sainte-Marie when he asked her what she was doing.

Keep ReadingShow less