The Kindness Test
What is it that makes us kind? Why are some of us kinder than others – and what stops us from being kinder?
The Kindness Test, a major new study involving more than 60,000 people from 144 different countries, has been looking into these and other questions.
Devised by the University of Sussex in the UK, it’s believed to be the largest public study of kindness ever carried out in the world.
The results suggest that people who receive, give or even just notice more acts of kindness tend to experience higher levels of wellbeing and life satisfaction.
Claudia Hammond, visiting professor of the public understanding of psychology at the University of Sussex , told The Guardian newspaper being kind is a big part of human nature because it’s how we connect with people and how we have relationships.
It’s a win-win situation, because we like receiving kindness, but we also like being kind,” she said.
People who have been told they should be kind are naturally more likely to notice opportunities to be kind.
Overall, the study suggests the greatest predictor of how kind you are to others – and how kind they are to you –…is your personality.
People who scored high on extraversion, openness to new experiences and agreeableness self-reported giving and receiving more kindness, as did people who talk to strangers.
You have a choice when you interact with people – and the more you try to find opportunities to be kind, the easier it gets.
Choosing kindness helps everyone
Doing kind things for other people, even just for a month or a week, makes us feel happier and more connected to others, and improves our self-esteem.
We also tend to feel better and report improved wellbeing when we spend money to help other people, rather than just ‘treating ourselves’.
Studies show that even very small children can enjoy being kind to others and being kind to others can also help us to fit in socially.
Even remembering past acts of kindness can lift our spirits. Several studies have found that people report feeling happier when they get into a habit of noticing and recalling the kind things they have done.
Best of all, kindness can become ‘contagious’. These acts could include bringing someone coffee, buying them a small gift, or helping them with a task. to do so.