Givers are likely to experience greater happiness if they frame their prosocial goals in concrete rather than abstract terms, a study has revealed. Pro-social acts are defined as voluntary behaviour intended to benefit someone else.

For example, concrete goals can be making someone smile or increasing recycling instead of following similar but more abstract goals like making someone happy or saving the environment.

"A pro-social act can not only boost the happiness of the recipient but it can boost the happiness of the giver as well," said Jennifer Aaker, a professor at Stanford Graduate School of Business.

"However," cautioned Melanie Rudd, an assistant professor of marketing at University of Houston, "not all pro-social goals are created equal."

While your expectations of success are more likely to be met in reality when you pursue concretely framed goals, broad and abstract goals may bring about happiness' dark side - unrealistic expectations, said the study.

For the study, the researchers conducted six experiments involving 543 people from laboratory studies and national survey pools in US. The study appeared in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.


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