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Can acts of kindness influence positive relations? : The role of the recipient and the number of kind acts

Erdinger, N.K. (2019) Can acts of kindness influence positive relations? : The role of the recipient and the number of kind acts.

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Abstract:Positive relations, which are characterized by affection and intimacy, are an essential part of well-being. One intervention that has been proven to positively affect general well-being, is the “acts of kindness” intervention. However, little research has examined effects of performing kind acts on positive relations. The goal of this study was to provide more insight by 1) examining the effects of performing kind acts on positive relations over time, 2) exploring whether other-directed kind acts are more effective than self-directed acts and 3) investigating the potential effect the average number of performed acts has on positive relations.As part of a randomized controlled trial, 170 participants were randomly assigned to perform either other-directed (n = 85) or self-directed (n = 85) kind acts. In the six-week-long intervention, participants were asked to perform five kind acts on one day during the week, while reporting on the nature and frequency of performed acts in an online diary. Three moments of measurement were used: a baseline, a post-measurement (i.e., six weeks after baseline) and a follow-up measurement (i.e., three months after baseline). Statistical analyses were conducted, using both estimated (Linear Mixed Model) and observed data (t-tests, multiple regression).Overall results indicate that the experience of positive relations positively changed over time, regardless of whether the acts were self- or other-directed and regardless from how many acts were performed on a weekly basis. Although positive relations especially increased during the intervention, the effects were still present three months after participating. Comparing both conditions, no significant differences were found in positive relations on all three moments of measurement.The findings of this study contribute to the knowledge about the effects of kindness interventions, since the study was able to link the performance of kind acts to improvements in positive relations, irrespectively of whether those acts were self- or other-directed. Implications and recommendations for future research are given, e.g. concerning the nature and intensity of performed kind acts and their effect on positive relations, rather than how many kind acts were performed.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology MSc (66604)
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