Once these bold findings on the connection between getting high and building social skills are replicated, perhaps the time will be right to enlarge our concept of medicine — to bring back into focus the wholistic health impacts that come from Ganja into a healthy pattern of living.
Important: This is an abridged and simplified version of a research paper published here: Vigil, J.M., Stith, S.S. & Chanel, T. Cannabis consumption and prosociality. Sci Rep 12, 8352 (2022). https://rdcu.be/c6fSv and https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-12202-8 What you are about to read is a group effort from us to you and is not necessarily endorsed by anyone. We have no claim on the research we make accessible, of course. Popularizing current cannabis research is an ongoing thing here at Cannabox Town Hall.
— Carl K Linn
Abstract: The Positive Social Impact of Getting High
The existing literature largely focuses on health risks and other pharmacodynamics of using cannabis, with fewer investigations of other normative psychological effects from consumption among otherwise healthy people. We measured several basic constructs of social psychology corresponding to the concept of prosociality among 146 healthy young adults between 18 and 25 years with varying detectable levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in their urine, controlling for participant’s sex, age, ethnicity, and childhood socio-economic status.
Definitions: Weed Usually Increases Prosociality, undermining the stigma of the lazy burn out
Compared to THC-free individuals, cannabis users scored higher than non-users on validated measures of Prosocial Behaviors, the Empathy Quotient, Moral Harmlessness and Moral Fairness, but exhibited a lower sense of Ingroup Loyalty. Relative to THC-free, same-sex individuals, female cannabis users scored significantly higher on measurements of Aggression and male users scored higher on the Agreeableness dimension of personality. Linear associations were found between the recency of last cannabis usage and the Prosocial Behaviors, Empathy Quotient, Moral Harmlessness,
Moral Fairness and Agreeableness personality scores. The findings suggest cannabis usage is associated with an increased sense of prosociality and prioritization of humanitarian behaviors that declines with time following cannabis consumption. Further research should focus on heterogeneity in the effects of cannabis consumption across users.
People have studied the health effects of using cannabis, but not as much about how it affects a person’s behavior and thoughts when they are not sick. We wanted to see how cannabis affects how people act toward others. We tested 146 healthy adults between 18 and 25 years old who had used cannabis recently or not at all. We asked them questions and compared their answers. We found that people who used cannabis scored higher on tests that measure how much they care about other people and doing good things.
Weed Makes Most Less Selfish
They also scored higher on tests that measure how fair they are. But they scored lower on a test that measures how much they care about the group they belong to. We also found that women who used cannabis were more likely to be aggressive, and men who used cannabis were more likely to be friendly. The more recently someone had used cannabis, the more likely they were to care about others and be fair. But this effect decreased over time after using cannabis. We need to do more research to understand how cannabis affects different people in different ways.
Due in part to its nearly century-long designation as an illicit substance by the federal government of the United States, the scientific community has mostly focused on the pharmacodynamics and health risks of consuming the Cannabis plant, with much fewer investigations of its potential effects on other basic elements of normative psychological functioning. For example, “prosociality” refers to the intentional act of advancing the well-being of other people.
Prosocial behaviors, such as displays of empathy, providing assistance to others, and engaging in community service, not only enhance the individual’s social status, but also promote distinct health advantages. Individuals that voluntarily engage in higher rates of prosociality benefit from greater physical health, lower disease rates, higher quality of life, and longer average lifespans.
Psychologically, prosociality induces feelings of happiness, which in turn increase the motivation to engage in further acts of prosociality, thereby creating a positive behavioral health loop for the actor. However, because prosociality also entails a direct benefit to a target, which can often result in tertiary beneficence beyond the initial actor/target, prosociality can be considered not only essential to, but also an accurate metric of a society’s overall cohesiveness and vitality.
Scientists have mostly focused on the health risks of using cannabis because it has been illegal for a long time. But not many studies have looked at how cannabis affects other parts of our behavior. One important behavior is called “prosociality,” which means doing things to help others. When people do more prosocial things, it can make them happier and healthier.
Discussion: Prosciality Effects Are Immediate
The current study adds to the scientific literature by showing both sex-specific and more 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 identification. In men, cannabis exposure was also associated with higher scores on the agreeableness personality dimension, matching levels of non-using females. The exception to this general shift towards heightened trait levels of prosociality was the finding of higher aggression scores among female cannabis users, as compared to non-users.
However, because the aggression scores were uncorrelated with recency of usage, they are likely the result of selection effects, whereby females that experiment with cannabis are more likely to score higher on trait aggression, on average, as compared to females that choose not to experiment with cannabis, rather than, for example, the possibility that cannabis directly increases aggressive behaviors in women.
Can the word ”mellow” refer to an evidence-based reaction to cannabis?
Our results are instead consistent with research showing the acute THC intoxication 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, with some researchers estimating that frequent cannabis use can increase an individual’s sociability by as much as 68.4%, thinking profoundly by 31.4%, happiness by 16.1%, feeling nice or pleasant by 20.9%, insight into others by 11.9%, and insight into oneself or personal growth by 8.7%22.
Similar findings show cannabis users report a greater ability to empathize with others when shown discrete facial expressions of emotion, as compared to non-users. Still, cannabis’ effects on aggressive behaviors are likely moderated by a host of genotypic and circumstantial factors, including individual differences in baseline and diurnal mental and physical health states, recent and past experiences, social contextual and nonsocial environmental factors, and the natural heterogeneity of the Cannabis plant in and of itself.
Weed rapidly amplifies one’s sense of happiness, optimism, and well-being
The biopsychosocial mechanisms by which cannabis induces a transformation in perceptual functioning have not yet been the subject of full direct investigation, but can be interpreted in the context of broad behavioral and neurocognitive frameworks of affective behaviors and emotionality. From an ethological perspective, trustworthiness cues, or submissive affective displays are the types of behaviors that humans express in order to strengthen the intimacy and reliability of their relationships.
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.
Cannabis users have also been shown to produce reduced amygdala reactivity to threatening social stimuli, and cannabis usage rapidly amplifies one’s sense of happiness, optimism, and well-being, with large national databases showing the most frequently perceived side-effects of medical cannabis usage, recorded in real-time, are a heightened sense of feeling “relaxed”, “peaceful”, and “comfy”. These findings are in direct contrast to findings from other intoxicants, such as alcohol, that are well-established to cause acute increases in hostility and aggression.
So basically, some researchers did a study and found that when healthy young adults use cannabis for “non-medical reasons”, it can make them feel happier and more positive. This is important because people’s personalities are still developing during their teenage years and early 20s, and this is also when they learn how to be good and kind to others. The researchers think that more studies are needed to figure out if cannabis could be helpful for people who have problems like bad behavior or being in jail.