Feb. 14 (UPI) -- Researchers at the University of Rochester have discovered that for spouses, it truly is better to give than to receive.
A team led by Harry Reis, professor of psychology at the U of R, studied 175 newlywed couples in North America who were married an average of 7 months.
"Our study was designed to test a hypothesis put forth by Tenzin Gyatso, the current Dalai Lama," Reis said in a press release. "That compassionate concern for others' welfare enhances one's own affective state."
Researchers have found that emotional benefits of compassionate acts are significant for the person giving the compassion regardless of whether or not the recipient is aware of the act.
Study participants were asked to keep a two-week daily diary to record instances where either spouse sacrificed personal desires to meet their partner's needs. The participants also kept track of their daily emotional states for each day based on 14 positive and negative terms, such as happy, calm, sad, angry and hurt.
During the 14-day period, husbands and wives reported giving and receiving an average of .65 and .59 compassionate acts daily. Husbands reported perceiving more acts than wives.
Results showed that donors benefited from compassionate acts even if the acts were not recognized by their partner. The benefit for the donors was about 45 percent greater than for the recipients.
"Clearly, a recipient needs to notice a compassionate act in order to emotionally benefit from it," Reis said. "But recognition is much less a factor for the donor. Acting compassionately may be its own reward."
The study was published in the journal Emotion.