According to a new study, people who have recently used cannabis scored higher on measurements of prosocial behaviours, empathy and moral decision-making compared to non-users – prompting the question, does cannabis make people nicer?
Titled “Cannabis Consumption and Prosociality” and published in the journal Scientific Report, the study is among the first to demonstrate a direct association between cannabis use and positive psychological outcomes in otherwise healthy young adults.
With a sample consisting of 146 healthy undergraduate students, researchers first took urine samples from the participants in order to determine recent cannabis exposure.
Participants were then asked to complete a number of questionnaires in order to evaluate a number of personality traits including aggression, empathy, trust, morals and prosocial behaviours.
After analysing the results, researchers determined “universal associations between cannabis use and several social psychological constructs associated with the concept of prosociality.
“Many of the constructs showed a linear relation with the recency of the last time the participants consumed cannabis, suggesting an immediate effect that diminishes over time.
“The general effect is consistent with a shift in perceptions that prioritize the role of prosocial behaviors, social empathy, benevolence, and fairness, independent of in-group identifications.”
Additionally, in men, cannabis exposure was also associated with higher ratings in agreeableness, matching levels of non-using females.
The results of this study are consistent with research showing that THC consumption is usually associated with dampened aggression, and positively related to subjective feelings of openness, peace, joy, wonder, spirituality, and a heightened sense of connection to the universe.
The study authors postulate that “cannabis usage may, therefore, induce the expression of communicative gestures, such as self-described and demonstrated empathy, in ways that effectively increase users’ social desirability and the overall reliability of their social spheres in ways that promote a state of psychosocial homeostasis.”
Concluding their study, the authors note that if regular consumption of the cannabis plant promotes prosociality, “this raises the possibility of its use as an adjunctive therapy, e.g., among people being treated for ‘conduct disorders,’ such as the majority of incarcerated individuals in the U.S.
“Or, perhaps, cannabis may simply prove useful among people seeking to incorporate a heightened sense of prosociality in their daily activities and psychological perspectives.”
What do you think? Does cannabis make you a better, nicer person? And could it be a useful strategy for managing anti-social behaviour?