University of Twente Student Theses


Being kind to others instead of focusing on ourselves? : Enhancing mental well-being

Wieners, L.C. (2018) Being kind to others instead of focusing on ourselves? : Enhancing mental well-being.

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Abstract:Mental well-being is defined as experiencing a happy and meaningful life that is embedded in a positive social environment. One possibility to promote well-being is to engage in prosocial behavior. Literature suggests that performing kind acts to others can enhance mental well-being, even more so than being kind to yourself. The current study aims to test the effects of an ​act of kindness intervention on mental well-being in a single blind randomized controlled trial. A total of 254 participants were randomly assigned to three different conditions: (1) the intervention group, participating in the ​acts of kindness intervention (​n​ = 85), (2) an active control group, performing acts of self-kindness (​n​ = 85), and (3) a wait list control group (​n​ = 84). Mental well-being was measured at baseline, post-test (6 weeks after baseline) and a 6-week follow-up (12 weeks after baseline). A one way analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) reported that the level of mental well-being was significantly more increased in the intervention condition than in the wait-list control group, due to improvements in emotional and psychological well-being. The effects were still visible at the 6-week follow-up. However, there were no significant differences in mental well-being between the group engaging in kindness to others and the group performing kind acts to themselves. The results of the study support the use of kindness interventions to promote mental well-being. It contributes to the growing body of literature on kindness interventions by being the first of its kind that is conducted in the general Dutch population. Moreover, the outcome reveals potential topics for further research, ​because there is still ​little known about the working mechanisms of kindness interventions and the effects of self-kindness.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology MSc (66604)
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