One explanation is a “domino effect” in that people with disposable income see a “pay it forward” story and realize they can help. Tips are also seen as charity and random acts of kindness are common after tragedies. Further both parties experience a “high return” (a good feeling). There is a social contagion factor to this behavior. “On an evolutionary level, generosity has been a key to the survival of the species. What this does is it allows those who are struggling to have some success and as a result we are all better for it. When it’s anonymously done, it heightens the feeling of specialness, so the giver feels even more satisfaction. It’s done anonymously because they really want the other person to just have it – they don’t want any secondary kind of limelight. And giving back is a way to feel closer to our community, even if it's just buying someone else's coffee. Those smaller acts of kindness are what is most important. It's a way of us being connected." Read article
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