We know that doing nice things for others feels good for both the giver and receiver. What is less clear is how the environments we spend time in, whether it is school, work, home, or the community, are impacted by these acts of kindness. New research shows that these acts of kindness have some serious benefits not only for the individuals involved, but also for the broader systems we are in.
As reported by The British Psychological Society Research Digest, researchers enrolled certain Coca Cola employees in a four week study that tracked outcomes such as mood and life satisfaction. The researchers had some of the participants (called Givers) engage in five acts of kindness to specific participants (called Receivers) over the four weeks. These acts of kindness were relatively small, such as getting someone a coffee or sending a thank you email, and the Givers were allowed to choose how they wanted to perform the act of kindness.
What the researchers found was that both the Givers and the Receivers benefitted from these prosocial acts, including feeling more competent and believing they had more autonomy in their jobs. The Givers and Receivers also experienced other benefits such as reporting more happiness, less depression, and greater life satisfaction.
In addition, the Receivers then paid forward the acts of kindness to others by engaging in 278% more prosocial behaviors compared to control participants who were not the recipients of acts of kindness by the Givers. This contagion of prosocial behavior apparently was not limited to the Givers and Receivers, as the Receivers engaged in prosocial behavior with other employees at the site. As such, it appears that the Givers started a cycle of prosocial behavior at work that extended beyond their initial acts of kindness.
We hear a lot of negative information in the news, so it is wonderful to hear about studies that focus on the positives of human behavior. This study really makes me think about my own behavior in the workplace and how I could contribute to a nicer working environment.
I am going to challenge myself and each of you to engage in some small acts of kindness over the next month wherever you are, whether it is in your community, at school, at work, etc. If we want to see a kinder world, it should start with us and I like the idea of these small acts building towards something greater. So let us push ourselves to take an extra step and make someone else's day a little bit better. Who knows how far that small act will go.
Article link: https://digest.bps.org.uk/2017/07/04/small-acts-of-kindness-at-work-benefit-the-giver-the-receiver-and-the-whole-organisation/
The Clinically Relevant Insights Blog, part of ShawnWilsonPhD.com, is a blog that shares news and research regarding psychology and wellness.