Altruism and Wellbeing in Hong Kong

By September 2, 2016

A Longitudinal Study on Altruism and Well-being in Hong Kong

Background and Objectives

5350787982_7910cc0725_bWell-being has been generally agreed worldwide as more than the absence of illness and negative emotions, but also the presence of positive emotions and moods, sense of meaning, and positive functioning. According to the latest World Happiness Report, Hong Kong ranked near the mid-point in subjective wellbeing and has dropped in the past two years. We see the necessity to explore reasons behind this decrease of subjective wellbeing ranking in Hong Kong. With evidence supported from previous research, we see altruism are often regarded as the source of happiness, an important indicator of well-being, in various cultural traditions such as Confucianism and Christianity. We have therefore developed a three-year project committed to exploring the connection between altruism and well-being in Hong Kong. The current project aims to:

  • Provide a common metric for policymakers to shape and compare the effects of different policies relating to altruism and well-being;
  • Inform general public and local policymakers with a more holistic assessment of progress level of our society, and;
  • Generate crucial information for examining the relationships between altruistic behaviours and well-being.


Focus Group

To better understand how people perceive and their experience on altruistic behaviours in Hong Kong, we kicked off the project by inviting people from diverse social-economic background to share their thoughts on this matter in a focus group.Focus Group

We have held a total of 6 focus groups back in late 2015. A total of 35 participants from a wide range of occupations and ethnicity participated the focus group in either Cantonese, English, or Mandarin. The discussion among participants generated invaluable ideas and information on the topic and had enriched our understanding of altruism in Hong Kong. We express our greatest appreciation to those who participated in the study.

The research team have now completed all transcriptions in verbatim and have conducted a preliminary thematic analysis. The results are encouraging and will surely enhance our understanding of altruism in Hong Kong,

Experimental Study

The best way to determine the causal relationship between Altruism and Well-being is by doing a randomised controlled experiment. The current project utilised advantages of an experiment and adopted an innovative method in engaging participants in the experiment. We have developed a mobile application named Helppiness that combines both research and services elements in altruism. The App is first of its kind in Hong Kong, featuring functions such as access to the latest volunteering, fundraising, donation, and informal helping information, as well as a personalised user profile to keep track of their participations of altruistic behaviours and well-being status.HKU Breifing

Briefing at University of Hong Kong

Participant recruitment started in May 2016 and lasted two months. We have recruited more than 340 participants in total for the study and all were invited to attend briefing sessions prior to the start of the study. The first briefing session was held in HKU on the 28th June. During the session, our centre director Prof. Paul Yip and his research team introduced “Helppiness” to the public for the first time, marking the official launch of the app.

CTF BreifingBriefing at Chow Tai Fook Training Centre

The research team also held another briefing session at Chow Tai Fook Training Centre for their staff members. All attendees were very supportive and display enthusiasm towards the study. We are very grateful for all the supports from all study participants.

Future Plans

We continue to invest resources in improving and connecting with various stakeholders to enhance our service in “Helppiness”. In near future, we aim to:

  • Launch English Version of “Helppiness”
  • Make “Helppiness” publically accessible.
  • Promote “Helppiness” and altruism in general in publicity events

If you would like to try out “Helppiness”. Please search “Helppiness” on Play Store for Android user or App Store for iPhone user (Please note the app is currently accessible by invitation only).

If you are current “Helppiness” user, please visit our Helppiness Page for more details and resources.

Panel Survey

Panel SurveyA two-wave panel survey is scheduled to be conducted in 2016 and 2017 respectively. We aim to assess the general Hong Kong population’s participation rates in different types of altruistic behaviours and examine the potential benefits from these altruistic behaviours.

The first wave of the panel survey has started in July 2016. We are expecting to receive the first set of data in December.

Last update : September 2, 2016