You’re Underestimating Kindness – A Recent Study Shows How Far A Simple Positive Deed Can Go

Lately, it seems the world is full of hate. Wherever you look—local and national news, social media—no one seems to be getting along and bad things always happen. Many of us probably feel like it’s easier to wallow and avoid or limit interactions with strangers. But is isolating yourself from unfamiliar people the best course of action?

You’ve probably heard that a small act of kindness goes a long way. And it turns out, it’s not just an old saying. A recent study suggests that not only is this idea true, but we may also be underestimating how much kindness actually has power.

Journal of Experimental Psychology Recently published a study titled “A little good goes an unexpectedly long way: Underestimating the positive impact of kindness on recipientsIn it, the researchers found that we tend to underestimate the positive effects of random acts of kindness.

“Performing random acts of kindness increases happiness in both the giver and the recipient, but we find that givers systematically underestimate their positive effects on recipients,” the study said.

Researchers had performed a range of subjects – from giving a cup of hot chocolate in a Chicago park to giving a $100 gift card to split with another person. And they found that those who committed such acts “consistently underestimated how positive their recipients would feel” because they felt the act was of lesser value than the receiver.

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“Acts of kindness may miss the fact that only warm, kind acts can be meaningful to the recipients of what they are giving them,” said study author Amit Kumar. Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin.

The researchers also found that we don’t realize the ripple effect that random acts of kindness can generate. Not only do we not realize how good it makes a person feel, but we tend to underestimate how much the recipient is willing to pay for it up front.

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Kumar said that “the extra warmth that comes from being at the end of an act of kindness” is what drives this whole concept. He added that “generosity can sometimes be contagious.”

Why does all this matter? Well, as Kumar says, underestimating the positive effects of kindness can actually prevent us from doing those things in daily life.

“If you know you’re making an even more positive impression, you’re more likely to take this action. But if you think it’ll only make a slight impact, you may need to pursue this behavior.” Chances are slim,” Kumar explained.

So, don’t be afraid to compliment someone, write positive online reviews for your local small business of choice, visit nursing homes and play board games with residents, or smile at someone who seems to be having a bad day. You never know how much impact that simple act can have for everyone involved.

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