Study Shows Cannabis Use Could Lead To Increased Kindness and Empathy
Led by researchers for The University of New Mexico, the study was published in the journal Scientific Reports. It is one of the first to demonstrate the non-medical benefits of cannabis use and positive psychological outcomes among healthy young adults. Researchers point to the existing literature surrounding cannabis and user effects, noting that the majority focus on the health risks and pharmacodynamics of consumption, rather than investigating other normative psychological effects of use among otherwise healthy people. “Most investigations on the effects of using cannabis have focused on either negative consequences of cannabis addiction or on the physical health effects of cannabis use,” said Jacob Miguel Vigil, lead investigator and assistant professor at UNM Department of Psychology. “Almost no formal scientific attention has been devoted to understanding other psychological and behavioral effects of consuming the plant, despite it being so widely used throughout human history.” With controls for the participant’s age, sex, ethnicity, and childhood socioeconomic status, researchers examined 146 healthy college students between 18 and 25 years of age with varying, detectable levels of THC in their urine. Ultimately, they found that cannabis consumers scored higher than THC-free participants on measures of prosocial behavior, empathy, moral harmlessness, and moral fairness. Cannabis users and non-users had no differences in measurements of anger, hostility, trust of others, facial threat interpretation, extraversion, conscientiousness, emotional stability, openness, or moral decision making founded on principles of respecting authority and preserving the concept of purity. The findings also suggest that cannabis could contribute to a shift from more ego-centric self-concepts to a heightened sense of selflessness and responsibility to protect others from unneeded harm. Among men, cannabis users scored higher on “agreeableness,” and most of the observed differences in prosociality between cannabis users and non-users had a correlation with the duration of time since participants…
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