Good deeds boost overall health and well-being, according to new research.
This is the claim in a report published by the American Psychological Association, although it does suggest the benefits to the giver’s health and wellbeing depends on a number of factors.
These include the type of kindness, the definition of well-being, along with the age and gender of the person performing the act of kindness.
Research assistant professor at the University of Hong Kong and lead author of the study, Bryant P.H. Hui, PhD, claims “prosocial behaviour” – altruism, cooperation, trust, and compassion – are all vital ingredients of a harmonious and well-functioning society.
He said it is a necessary part of “the shared culture of humankind” and that the teams research shows “it also contributes to mental and physical health”.
Hui and his fellow researchers analysed 201 independent studies, comprising almost 200,000 total participants, that looked at the link between acts of kindness and well-being.
And they found a “modest” connection between the two, with Hui concluding this was “meaningful” given how many people perform good deeds of some kind every dayy.
More than a quarter of Americans volunteer, for example,” he said. “A modest effect size can still have a significant impact at a societal level when many people are participating in the behavior.”
Hui and his colleagues also found that random acts of kindness, such as helping an older person with their shopping, were more strongly linked with overall well-being than formal prosocial behavior, such as scheduled volunteering for a good cause.
This is believed to be because the act is more spontaneous and less formal.
Hui, who began this research at the University of Cambridge, added that the effects varied by age, according to Hui, who began this research at the University of Cambridge.
Younger givers of kindness reported higher levels of overall well-being, happiness and psychological functioning, while older givers reported higher levels of physical health.
Additionally, females displayed stronger links between prosociality and well-being compared with men.
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