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Do acts of kindness improve the well-being of the actor? Recent advances in the behavioural sciences have provided a number of explanations of human social, cooperative and altruistic behaviour. These theories predict that people will be ‘happy to help’ family, friends, community members, spouses, and even strangers under some conditions. Here we c...

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... remaining 57 articles were then read in full, and assessed for appropriateness for the meta-analysis (see S2 for the full list). This process excluded a further 33 records (and several studies from in- cluded articles) for reasons summarised in Table S1. 4 At the end of this process we were left with 24 articles, containing a total of relevant 27 studies that had experimentally tested the hypothesis that kindness causes well-being. ...
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... characteristics of the 27 studies are presented in Table 1. These 27 studies included a total of 4045 participants (mean proportion male = 35%, mean age = 25.04, ...

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... Prosocial behavior refers to voluntary behavior intended to benefit others, such as helping, sharing, and comforting (Eisenberg et al., 2006); it is positively associated with better adjustment in childhood and adolescence (Eisenberg et al., 2015). An emerging body of research indicates that prosocial behavior predicts diverse positive development outcomes, such as well-being (e.g., Curry et al., 2018) and academic achievement (e.g., Gerbino et al., 2018). Thus, developing a better understanding of the determinants of prosocial behavior is of great importance to promote the positive development of adolescents. ...
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Adolescents’ friendship quality and positivity have been shown to be related to their prosocial behavior. However, little is known about how friendship quality is associated longitudinally with positivity and prosocial behavior. To address this gap, this study examined longitudinal bidirectional relations among friendship quality, positivity, and prosocial behavior in early adolescents. A sample of 3944 Chinese early adolescents (Mage = 10.44 years; 54.4% male) completed multiple measurements of relevant constructs on four occasions at six-month intervals. After controlling for sex and family socioeconomic status (SES), cross-lagged path analyses revealed bidirectional relations between positive friendship quality and prosocial behavior; positivity and prosocial behavior; and positive friendship quality and positivity. Negative friendship quality predicted subsequent prosocial behavior and positivity more than the reverse relations. Furthermore, tests of indirect effects indicated that positive friendship quality indirectly predicted prosocial behavior via positivity and vice versa; negative friendship quality indirectly predicted prosocial behavior via friendship quality and vice versa. The findings provide a more comprehensive understanding of how friendship quality and positivity temporally interrelate with prosocial behavior in early adolescents from a positive youth development perspective, and they yield significant implications for prosocial behavior interventions.
... In particular, prior research indicate that a tendency to act according to moral standards and ethical behaviors is associated with lower risks of incident cognitive impairment not dementia, depression and unfavorable healthrelated behaviors as well as lower limitations in mobility and less difficulty in instrumental activities of daily living among middle-aged and older adults [30][31][32]. Additionally, other studies on related constructs have also shown that prosocial behaviors such as generosity or kindness, providing emotional and economical support to others, and performing acts of altruistic behaviors may favorably affect health and increase the well-being of the giver [33][34][35][36]. Consequently, in this study, we test the hypothesis that the adherence to moral standards and ethical behaviors is favorably associated with higher subsequent purpose in life, and this prospective association holds even after adjusting for a wide range of potential confounders (i.e., sociodemographic and psychological factors, health behaviors, and prior health conditions). ...
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Personal factors, such as character strengths, have been shown to be favorably associated with concurrent and future well-being. Positive associations have also been reported between purpose in life and concurrent and subsequent health and well-being. Evidence on antecedents of purpose in life is, however, limited. This study examines whether the adherence to moral standards and ethical behaviors (AMSEB) is associated with subsequent purpose in life. Data from the Health and Retirement Study obtained from a sample of 8,788 middle-aged and older adults in the US (mean age = 64.9 years, age range 50–96 years) were used. The prospective associations between AMSEB and purpose in life were examined using generalized linear models. A rich set of covariates and prior outcomes were used as controls to reduce the risk of reverse causation. The robustness analyses included computation of sensitivity measures, E-values, and running a set of secondary analyses conducted on subsamples of respondents and using a limited set of covariates. It was found that middle-aged and older adults who demonstrated higher AMSEB reported a higher sense of purpose in life after the 4-year follow-up period. This association was found to be monotonic, moderately robust to potential unmeasured confounding and independent of demographics, prior socioeconomic status, prior health conditions, and health behaviors as well as prior psychological predispositions such as dispositional optimism and life satisfaction. It was also robust to missing data patterns. Policymakers and health practitioners may consider a predisposition to adherence to moral standards and ethical behaviors as a potential intervention target, as its improvement and/or maintenance has the potential to improve longevity and to help promote healthy and purposeful aging.
... The tasks were adapted from evidence-based positive psychology interventions e.g. best possible self (Carrillo et al., 2019;King, 2001), use of strengths (Martínez-Martí & Ruch, 2017;Niemiec, 2018Niemiec, , 2019Peterson & Seligman, 2004), acts of kindness (Curry et al., 2018;Ko et al., 2021;Lyubomirsky & Layous, 2013) and activating optimism (Seligman, 2006) amongst others. For example, at one stage the team was told that the boat had started taking on water and that all the team's strengths were needed to overcome the challenge or the boat would sink. ...
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In the current climate of Covid-19 and world-wide social distancing, the mental health toll has been widely reported, with an expectation that the negative impact will last beyond the lockdowns. Facing the prospect of an unknown future and continuing challenges, resilience is both topical and necessary. With a call for digitally delivered interventions to help people affected by the pandemic, this study explores how playing an online positive psychology-informed board game supported people to recognise resources for resilience. Sixteen multi-national participants played in groups of 3–4 and qualitative data, collected via focus groups, was analysed using Thematic Analysis. Participants described a broadening of resources, primarily through reflecting on and remembering prior strategies and successes. Four themes are identified which, it is suggested, facilitated this in a sequential, upward spiral; the game mechanisms (release), psychological safety (reflect), meaningful conversations (remember) and anchoring of prior experiences (reuse). Critically, this study suggests that psychological safety may have been amplified by the online environment, which participants suggested enabled them to engage without interruption or inhibition. Additionally, whilst not part of the original intervention, the post-game reflection played an essential role in meaning-making and transferring learning into real-life. Future research into how online environments might not just facilitate but augment interventions is recommended. Finally, this study calls for further research into the impact of playful positive psychology interventions, suggesting a potential development of ‘serious play’ towards ‘seriously positive play’.
... PPIs exist, for instance, that advance individual and group mental well-being through writing gratitude letters, replaying positive experiences, or practicing optimistic thinking (van Agteren et al., 2021;Weiss et al., 2016). There are also PPIs designed to help participants to identify and use their signature strengths (Schutte & Malouff, 2019), show kindness and self-compassion (Curry et al., 2018), foster forgiveness (Akhtar & Barlow, 2018), show gratitude (Davis et al., 2016;Dickens, 2017), increase individual and group optimism (Malouff & Schutte, 2017), enhance life review and introspection (Wang et al., 2017), improve social and emotional skills and academic performance (Shankland & Rosset, 2017), and to improve life satisfaction and overall mental health of non-clinical (Proyer et al., 2015) and clinical (Fava et al., 2005) population groups. ...
Article
Scholars conducting cross-cultural research in mental health often import intervention programs found to be efficacious in one social context (e.g., Western) and directly implement them in other contexts (e.g., African and Asian) without recourse to the sociocultural disparities between the target populations and the theoretical foundations of the constructs and principles underpinning the intervention programs. Such efforts mistakenly assume that positive psychology interventions (PPIs), most of which were developed from Western perspectives and assumed individualistic cultural orientation and value systems, operate equally across all contexts. Drawing on the extant literature and on insights from designing, implementing, and evaluating group-based (mental) health behavior change intervention programs across several communities in Ghana, we discuss some sociocultural, theoretical, and methodological issues that can significantly constrain the design, uptake, and effectiveness of PPIs in the rural, low literate, socioeconomically disadvantaged, highly collectivistic context of Ghana, and sub-Saharan Africa more generally. In all illustrations, we offer suggestions to guide the design and implementation processes to ensure culturally appropriate, highly acceptable, and potentially effective intervention programs. We argue that PPIs can be potentially fructuous in the sub-region when adapted to, or embedded in, the cultural values of the target population and tailored to the needs, capacities, and circumstances of participants.
... Physical health outcomes Self-reported mental health Anxiety Depression Self-reported physical health Cardiovascular disease Effect estimate † CI limit ‡ Effect estimate † CI limit ‡ Effect estimate † CI limit ‡ Effect estimate † CI limit ‡ Effect estimate † CI limit ‡ [72][73][74] and longitudinal observational studies [15] that SMC and their use may provide benefits especially for emotional well-being. Conversely, our results challenge the experimental findings of Khanna and Singh [24] who reported no contribution of some strengths of character to decreased depressive symptoms. ...
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Purpose Excellent character, reflected in adherence to high standards of moral behavior, has been argued to contribute to well-being. The study goes beyond this claim and provides insights into the role of strengths of moral character (SMC) for physical and mental health. Methods This study used longitudinal observational data merged with medical insurance claims data collected from 1209 working adults of a large services organization in the US. Self-reported physical and mental health as well as diagnostic information on depression, anxiety, and cardiovascular disease were used as outcomes. The prospective associations between SMC (7 indicators and a composite measure) and physical and mental health outcomes were examined using lagged linear and logistic regression models. A series of sensitivity analyses provided evidence for the robustness of results. Results The results suggest that persons who live their life according to high moral standards have substantially lower odds of depression (by 21-51%). The results were also indicative of positive associations between SMC and self-reports of mental health (β = 0.048-0.118) and physical health (β = 0.048-0.096). Weaker indications were found for a protective role of SMC in mitigating anxiety (OR = 0.797 for the indicator of delayed gratification) and cardiovascular disease (OR = 0.389 for the indicator of use of SMC for helping others). Conclusions SMC may be considered relevant for population mental health and physical health. Public health policies promoting SMC are likely to receive positive reception from the general public because character is both malleable and aligned with the nearly universal human desire to become a better person.
... These effects can last for several weeks or even months following the end of an intervention [10][11][12][13][14][15]. Evidence indicates that prosocial behaviors produce positive emotions and happiness even when performed at a distance, making them ideally suited to the current crisis [16][17][18]. Prosocial acts can be flexibly enacted in many circumstances and often at little to no cost, facts which give a prosocial intervention the potential to be implemented quickly and widely. ...
... In the last several decades, this simple maxim has been placed under scientific scrutiny and accumulated a sizable body of evidence that attests to its veracity. Two recent meta-analyses found that prosocial activities produce a small positive effect on "emotional well-being"-a catch-all term that includes happiness, eudaimonic well-being, positive affect, psychological flourishing, and the absence of negative emotions [17,21]. Prosocial effects have been observed among children as well as adults and in samples across the world [17,[22][23][24][25][26][27]. ...
... Two recent meta-analyses found that prosocial activities produce a small positive effect on "emotional well-being"-a catch-all term that includes happiness, eudaimonic well-being, positive affect, psychological flourishing, and the absence of negative emotions [17,21]. Prosocial effects have been observed among children as well as adults and in samples across the world [17,[22][23][24][25][26][27]. Aknin et al. [22] speculate the "warm glow" of giving might be a universal component of human psychology. ...
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Background The COVID-19 pandemic, the accompanying lockdown measures, and their possible long-term effects have made mental health a pressing public health concern. Acts that focus on benefiting others-known as prosocial behaviors-offer one promising intervention that is both flexible and low cost. However, neither the range of emotional states prosocial acts impact nor the size of those effects is currently clear-both of which directly influence its attractiveness as a treatment option.Objective To assess the effect of prosocial activity on emotional well-being (happiness, belief that one's life is valuable) and mental health (anxiety, depression).Methods1,234 respondents from the United States and Canada were recruited from Amazon's Mechanical Turk and randomly assigned (by computer software) to perform prosocial (N = 411), self-focused (N = 423), or neutral (N = 400) behaviors three times a week for three weeks. A follow-up assessment was given two weeks after the intervention. Participants were blind to alternative conditions. Analyses were based on 1052 participants (Nprosocial = 347, Nself = 365, Nneutral = 340).FindingsThose in the prosocial condition did not differ on any outcome from those in the self-focused or neutral acts conditions during the intervention or at follow-up, nor did prosocial effects differ for those who had been negatively affected socially or economically by the pandemic (all p's > 0.05). Exploratory analyses that more tightly controlled for study compliance found that prosocial acts reduced anxiety relative to neutral acts control (β = -0.12 [95% CI: -0.22 to -0.02]) and increased the belief that one's life is valuable (β = 0.11 [95% CI: 0.03 to 0.19]). These effects persisted throughout the intervention and at follow-up.Conclusion Prosocial acts may provide small, lasting benefits to emotional well-being and mental health. Future work should replicate these results using tighter, pre-registered controls on study compliance.
... More generallywithin the therapeutic context and beyonda wealth of work suggests behaviour can shape happiness. In terms of kindness, for instance, studies show that cultivating this quality through activities like practising meditation (Fredrickson et al., 2008), and furthermore engaging in actual acts of kindness (Curry et al., 2018), reliably induces happiness in the actor (even if effect sizes are relatively small). Moreover, a shift in perspective may be also required here; just as thoughts may not only generate but actually constitute happinessas noted aboveso too might behaviour. ...
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Happiness is an increasingly prominent topic of interest across academia. However, relatively little attention has been paid to how it is created, especially not in a multidimensional sense. By ‘created’ we do not mean its influencing factors, for which there is extensive research, but how it actually forms in the person. The work that has been done in this arena tends to focus on physiological dynamics, which are certainly part of the puzzle. But they are not the whole picture, with psychological, phenomenological, and socio cultural processes also playing their part. As a result, this paper offers a multidimensional overview of scholarship on the ‘architecture’ of happiness, providing a stimulus for further work into this important topic.
... The same can also be said for engaging in prosocial activism (Klar & Kasser, 2009). In fact, a metaanalysis of 27 studies found that acts of kindness in general are associated with greater subjective well-being (happiness, life satisfaction, positive affect, flourishing: Curry et al., 2018). Put succinctly, while it makes intuitive sense that a recipient of help benefits from the receipt of tangible assistance (e.g., increased resources, social support), considerable evidence also shows that helping others is associated with greater self-esteem and well-being for the helper as well. ...
... Prior research has shown both that fandom identification is associated with helping (Chadborn et al., 2016) and with self-esteem and psychological well-being (e.g., Plante et al., 2014a;Reysen et al., 2021). Other research has shown that there is a strong relationship between helping others and one's own self-esteem and subjective well-being (e.g., Curry et al., 2018;Hidalgo et al., 2013). Based on this research, we hypothesize that: ...
Article
We examined whether intragroup helping mediates the relationship between identification with one’s fandom and self-esteem and psychological well-being in three different samples of fans: bronies (fans of the television series My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic), anime fans (fans of Japanese animation and graphic novels), and furries (fans of anthropomorphic art and stories). Fans completed measures of ingroup identification, intragroup helping, and self-esteem (Studies 1 & 2) or psychological well-being (Study 3). Across all studies, the results tended to support intragroup helping as a mediator of the relationship between identification and self-esteem (Studies 1 & 2) and psychological well-being (Study 3). The results highlight a possible mechanism contributing to the benefits of belonging to fan groups and illustrate the possible benefits of helping others within one’s fan group.
... Of the three interventions included in this trial, acts of kindness to others is perhaps the most commonly studied. In general, evidence suggests that performing kind acts for others enhances well-being, at least in the short term (Curry et al., 2018), and feelings of social connection (Layous et al., 2012;O'Connell et al., 2016). However, prosocial interventions conducted among cancer survivors have yielded more mixed results, with some studies reporting null effects on well-being (Rini et al., 2014) and even increases in psychological distress (Lepore et al., 2014). ...
... Yet, the small studies sample size that met our pre-registration inclusion/exclusion criteria resulted in low power and limited our ability to conduct robust moderator analyses using a traditional metaregression. To allow for moderator analyses and address the power issue without risking overfitting, we employed metaforest (Curry et al., 2018;Van Lissa, 2017), which uses a machine learning algorithm "random forests" and bootstrapping to assess several potential moderators. ...
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Mere ownership effect is the phenomenon that people tend to value what they own more than what they do not own. This classic effect is considered robust, yet effect sizes vary across studies, and the effect is often confused for or confounded with other classic phenomena, such as endowment or mere exposure effects. We conducted a pre-registered meta-analysis of 26 samples published before 2019 (N = 3024), that resulted in psychological ownership on valuing effect of g ~ 0.55 [0.43, 0.66]. Suggestive moderator analyses supported the use of replica and valuing type as the strongest moderators. Mere ownership effects were different from the null across all moderator categories and in most publication bias adjustments. We consider this as suggestive evidence that psychological owning leads to valuing, yet caution that much more research is needed. All materials, data, and code are available on https://osf.io/fdyqw/