Research by Jane Dutton and Adam Grant cited in TED
January 13, 2017
Dutton and Grant’s study, titled Beneficiary or Benefactor: Are People More Prosocial When They Reflect on Receiving or Giving?, identified whether call center employees’ self-identified level of generosity affected their performance. The result was that those who told a story of themselves as benefactors made 30 percent more calls to alumni.
Smith identifies a causal link in this data, saying, “the ability of a story to create meaning does not end with the crafting of the tale. The stories the benefactors told about themselves ultimately led to meaningful behaviors — giving their time in the service of a larger cause.” Smith then concludes, “By subtly reframing their narrative, they adopted a positive identity that led them to live more purposefully.”
Jane Dutton is Robert L. Kahn Distinguished University Professor of Business Administration and Psychology at the University of Michigan and co-founder of the Center for Positive Organizations. Adam Grant is a member of the Center for Positive Organizations Research Advisory Board, Wharton’s top-rated professor, and author of Originals.