The chemistry and psychology of kindness

The chemistry and psychology of kindness

If happiness and kindness aren’t siblings then they’re almost certainly first cousins!

Happy people are more likely to be kind; and kind people are more likely to be happy.

As such, this article on kindness is very much at home on this blog about happiness …

via ABC by Sophie Kesteven

During childhood, many of us are taught about the importance of kindness.

But are you aware of the different motivations behind kindness and the benefits it can have on yourself?

It’s not uncommon to experience a “feel-good rush” after you’ve been kind to another person, says Dr James Kirby, a lecturer in clinical psychology at The University of Queensland.

“Sometimes people refer to it as the warm glow, and that’s some of the endorphins that are being kicked back into the system, the internal reward system,” he says.

So, is getting a regular rush of these endorphins as simple as just being more kind, more often?

Altruistic vs strategic kindness

A study conducted by psychologists at the University of Sussex in 2018 examined brain scans of more than a thousand participants who were carrying out acts of kindness.

It discovered that people benefit from acts of kindness regardless of whether they are strategically motivated (meaning there is something to be gained from their act of kindness), or altruistic (there is nothing in it for them) — but the “warm glow” effect was at its peak with altruistic acts of kindness.

“We found that there’s a part of the brain that is even more active when we give away [acts of kindness] with no possible benefits for ourselves, so in the altruistic case,” says Jo Cutler, a PhD student who co-authored the study.

“So, this is when that warm glow from kindness will be its strongest, and we saw the brain activity reflecting that.”

The ‘lost letter experiment’

Eager to get a better understanding of kindness, Cyril Grueter, senior lecturer at University of Western Australia, carried out a ‘lost letter experiment’ in Perth.

It involved dropping letters across different neighbourhoods, including low and high socio-economic suburbs, on two separate occasions…

… keep reading the full & original article HERE