Being Kind Can Make You Happy
Can performing acts of kindness and generosity really make you feel better? Researchers at the United Kingdom’s Oxford and Bournemouth universities wanted to investigate this widely held view. The study team delved into scientific literature and reviewed more than 400 studies on the subject, 21 of which were based on actual tests of whether kindness leads to happiness. After analyzing the findings, the team concluded that being kind could contribute to happiness, although the effect is apparently quite modest. They noted that the research they evaluated didn’t distinguish between showing kindness to family and friends versus strangers, and that taking this into account, targeted kindness rather than indiscriminate kindness may have a greater effect on happiness. Lead author, Oxford’s Oliver Scott Curry, concluded that the findings suggest that “performing acts of kindness will not change your life, but might help nudge it in the right direction” and that more research is needed to compare the effects of being kind to family and friends as opposed to strangers.
Oliver Scott Curry et al, “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, May 31, 2017, DOI 10.17605/OSF.IO/YTJ5S
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