Contact us

How Can We Help?

Home » Kindness Blog » Research into kindness

I believe that kindness is a positive thing. Whether you are being kind, you are receiving kindness or you notice it take place, you feel better as a result.

So I am delighted that there is an increasing body of academic research that is proving this positive effect to be true. The Sussex Centre for Research on Kindness at the University of Sussex and the Greater Good Science Centre at UC Berkeley are just two institutions studying this field. The results of studies are showing us more of what kindness is and why it matters.

What does the research say?

In the autumn of 2021, the Sussex Centre for Research on Kindness ran a mass public research project called The Kindness Test. It was launched on BBC Radio 4 and more than 60,000 people from across 144 different countries responded.

With such a lot of data, the questionnaire revealed all sorts of fascinating things. For example, it showed how often kindness occurs. Three-quarters of people said they received kindness from close friends or family quite often or nearly all the time. 16% said they had received an act of kindness ‘within the last hour’ and a further 43% said ‘within the last day’

Research also shows what people think counts as kindness. Earlier this year, research to support Tesco’s community grants programme asked people about the type of kind acts they carry out. Among the most common were:

  • holding the door open for someone (67%)
  • checking in to see how someone is doing (54%)
  • picking up litter (23%)
  • donating items to a food bank (12%)

Benefits of kindness

The wide range of benefits to acts of kindness has academic backing too. These include positive effects on both physical and mental health. Some of my favourite studies include:

  • According to Dr. David R. Hamilton, acts of kindness lead to the release of the hormone oxytocin and a chemical called nitric oxide, which dilates blood vessels. In this way, committing acts of kindness can reduce blood pressure.
  • Dr Christine Carter at the Greater Good Science Center found that people 55 and older who volunteer for two or more organizations have an impressive 44% lower likelihood of dying early. So giving help to others protects overall health.
  • Dr Kathryn Buchannan from the University of Essex studied the difference made when people looked at acts of kindness related to a bad news story (the helpers) and not just the bad news. Participants reported fewer negative emotions and felt more positive about the world.

Kindness in workplaces has also been shown to be important. A study from the Born This Way Foundation found that 77% of respondents were more likely to apply for a job posting that listed “kindness” as an important value of the company.

Be inspired

People who read the stories we celebrate through my Time for Kindness programme tell me that it makes them feel uplifted and hopeful. This research shows that it isn’t just an opinion, there is academic evidence for positive benefits too.

Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *