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Researchers asked 224 people about their experiences. The participants answered questions about injuries, bereavements, disasters, and relationship breakdowns.
They also measured their empathy. At the end, they had a chance to donate to charity. The more misery the participants had experienced, the more empathy they had.
There was also a connection between greater generosity and higher donations to a charity. The kind of the adversity they suffered didn’t matter.
This was true for people who suffered interpersonal and group-based harm and natural disasters; both countrymen and foreigners.
Pro-social attitudes toward tsunami victims were the highest among those who suffered from natural disasters.
Vollhardt JR, Staub E.; “Inclusive altruism born of suffering: the relationship between adversity and prosocial attitudes and behavior toward disadvantaged outgroups.” 2011 Jul; 81(3): 307-15.