Does being kind make us happy? Recent advances in the behavioral science have provided a number of explanations of human social, cooperative and altruistic behavior.
These theories predict that people will be happy to help family, friends, community members, spouses, and even strangers under some conditions.
To test whether and to what extent these predictions are supported by the existing literature, researchers conducted a systematic review of the experimental evidence.
The finding is published in Open Science Framework. Researchers from University of Oxford, University of Bournemouth, and University College London conducted the study.
Researchers performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of the experimental evidence that kindness interventions (for example, performing “random acts of kindness”) boost people’s well-being. A total of 19 studies were included in the review.
Researchers found that the overall effect of kindness on well-being is small-to-medium. They also found that the design and methodological limitations of existing studies preclude the testing of specific theories of kindness.
Researchers recommend that future work should distinguish between the effects of kindness to specific categories of people (for example, family, friends, strangers).
In addition, future work should take kindness-specific individual differences into account. Such research will advance the understanding of the causes and consequences of kindness, and help practitioners to maximize the effectiveness of kindness interventions.
Citation: Curry O, et al. (2016). Happy to Help? A systematic review and meta-analysis of the effects of performing acts of kindness on the well-being of the actor. Open Science Framework, published online. DOI: https://osf.io/preprints/ytj5s/.
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