Those who help their friends, family or even strangers may lead a happier life than those who do not, suggests new research.
The researchers found that being kind to others causes a small but significant improvement in our well-being.
“Humans are social animals. We are happy to help family, friends, colleagues, community members and even strangers under some conditions. This research suggests that people do indeed derive satisfaction from helping others,” said study lead author Oliver Scott Curry from the University of Oxford.
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“This is probably because we genuinely care about others’ welfare, and because random acts of kindness are a good way of making new friends, and kick starting supportive social relationships,” he noted.
For the study, the researchers carried out a systematic review of scientific literature on the subject.
They analysed over 400 published papers that had investigated the relationship between kindness and happiness, and identified 21 studies that had explicitly put the claim to the test that being kind to others makes us happier.
They then conducted a meta-analysis, which statistically combines the results of these previous studies.
On this basis, they calculate that there is indeed an overall effect of kindness on happiness, but that the size of the effect is relatively modest equivalent to less than one point on a zero to 10 happiness scale.
The study appeared in the journal Open Science Framework.