Practical Insights From the World’s Largest Kindness Study

Learn how to champion kind acts in everyday life.

Stone with a painted smile to illustrate kindness.

(Skoles /

It is said that through just one random act of kindness at a time, human beings have the ability to change the world. These altruistic gestures can truly make a significant impact in someone’s life.
“The Kindness Test”, the world’s biggest study on kindness, has now revealed invaluable insights regarding its nature and the role it plays in our lives, a University of Sussex media release points out. 

What kindness means
Around 60,000 people from 144 different countries volunteered to take part in the study conducted via a partnership between the School of Psychology at the University of Sussex and BBC Radio 4. That number speaks for itself. It showcases how kindness is valued, needed and wanted. 

But what does kindness mean? And, is it the same for everyone? “What you might call ‘common courtesy’, what you might call ‘being polite’, if it’s motivated by a care for another’s welfare – even if it’s a tiny thing, like holding the door for someone, or smiling at someone – that is kindness,” Robin Banerjee, head of the School of Psychology at the University of Sussex, told Positive News. According to the psychologist, “Those little moments add up.”

This explains why around 75 percent of respondents claimed their friends or family performed acts of kindness towards them either “quite often” or “nearly all the time”, and more than four out of ten revealed that someone had been kind to them within the last day.

What’s more, two-thirds of the respondents believe that the pandemic has made people kinder. In this context, it is in the small things like going shopping for someone else or looking after lonely people, where the difference lies, according to Positive News.

The benefits of kindness
It may not come as a surprise to learn that people who are often on the receiving end of multiple acts of kindness, enjoy elevated levels of well-being. But the study reveals something else. Those who perform more acts of kindness or even witness other people carrying out kind acts also have increased levels of well-being, the BBC states. 

Communities play a key role, as all aspects of kindness have been shown to be more present in the context of communities. Being kind, receiving kindness, and seeing kindness seem to be more common in places like the home, medical settings, the workplace, green spaces and shops. On the other hand, they appear to be less common in more anonymous spaces like the internet, public transport and the street.

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Other remarkable findings
The study also offered some interesting insights into the types of people that tend to give and receive more kindness. People with an extrovert and open personality, but also women and religious people, claim to carry out more kind acts on average. At the same time, income makes almost no difference to how kind people are.

Beyond these sometimes unexpected revelations, there’s an even more important discovery to note: the secret fears that might actually prevent some people from being kind. It turns out that the most common barriers to acts of kindness are concerns that kind actions may be misinterpreted, followed by not having enough time, the use of social media, not having the opportunity, or the fear of kindness being perceived as a weakness.  

The results of The Kindness Test are invaluable because, as Professor Robin Banerjee says, “They raise important questions for us all about how we can promote kindness in our homes, communities, and workplaces.

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