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It’s good to do good and receive good: The impact of a ‘pay it forward’ style kindness intervention on giver and receiver well-being


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Despite the popularity of the ‘pay it forward’ (PIF) concept in textbooks and popular culture, to date, no study has tested the effectiveness of a brief, one-time PIF activity on the well-being of those who do good and those who receive good. To test this, 83 undergraduates (‘givers’) performed random kind acts for 1.5 h. PIF resulted in a wide range of well-being benefits for givers (e.g. greater positive and lower negative affect), with females showing greater positive affect benefits. Receivers of kindness (N = 1014) also benefited as evidenced by greater smiling behavior and more sincere smiles vs. controls (N = 251). Of the 48 receivers who completed a follow-up online questionnaire, the majority indicated that they would also PIF, with almost 40% indicating that they already had. Results indicate that a one-time brief PIF intervention can have broad benefits for those involved.
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It’s good to do good and receive good: The impact of
a ‘pay it forward’ style kindness intervention on giver
and receiver well-being
Sarah D. Pressmana, Tara L. Kraftb & Marie P. Crossa
a Department of Psychology and Social Behavior, School of Social Ecology, University of
California, Irvine, 4201 Social & Behavioral Sciences Gateway, Irvine, CA 92697-7085, USA
b Department of Psychology, University of Kansas, 1415 Jayhawk Blvd., Fraser Hall, Room
426, Lawrence, KS 66045-7556, USA
Published online: 16 Oct 2014.
To cite this article: Sarah D. Pressman, Tara L. Kraft & Marie P. Cross (2014): It’s good to do good and receive good: The
impact of a ‘pay it forward’ style kindness intervention on giver and receiver well-being, The Journal of Positive Psychology:
Dedicated to furthering research and promoting good practice, DOI: 10.1080/17439760.2014.965269
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Its good to do good and receive good: The impact of a pay it forwardstyle kindness
intervention on giver and receiver well-being
Sarah D. Pressman
*, Tara L. Kraft
and Marie P. Cross
Department of Psychology and Social Behavior, School of Social Ecology, University of California, Irvine, 4201 Social &
Behavioral Sciences Gateway, Irvine, CA 92697-7085, USA;
Department of Psychology, University of Kansas, 1415 Jayhawk Blvd.,
Fraser Hall, Room 426, Lawrence, KS 66045-7556, USA
(Received 30 April 2014; accepted 9 September 2014)
Despite the popularity of the pay it forward(PIF) concept in textbooks and popular culture, to date, no study has tested
the effectiveness of a brief, one-time PIF activity on the well-being of those who do good and those who receive good.
To test this, 83 undergraduates (givers) performed random kind acts for 1.5 h. PIF resulted in a wide range of
well-being benets for givers (e.g. greater positive and lower negative affect), with females showing greater positive
affect benets. Receivers of kindness (N= 1014) also beneted as evidenced by greater smiling behavior and more
sincere smiles vs. controls (N= 251). Of the 48 receivers who completed a follow-up online questionnaire, the majority
indicated that they would also PIF, with almost 40% indicating that they already had. Results indicate that a one-time
brief PIF intervention can have broad benets for those involved.
Keywords: pay it forward; acts of kindness; positive psychology; well-being; altruism; positive affect; negative affect
Remember theres no such thing as a small act of kind-
ness. Scott Adams
It is well established that doing good is, in fact, good for
you. Numerous studies have documented the many psy-
chological and physical benets that can result from
engaging in kind and altruistic behavior. For example,
naturally occurring altruism and volunteering behavior
have been related to increased life satisfaction, decreased
depression, lower blood pressure, and even increased
longevity (Burr, Tavares, & Mutchler, 2011; Dulin,
Gavala, Stephens, Kostick, & McDonald, 2012;
Lyubomirsky, King, & Diener, 2005; Musick & Wilson,
2003; Post, 2005; Wheeler, Gorey, & Greenblatt, 1998;
Windsor, Anstey, & Rodgers, 2008). While the breadth
of ndings is impressive, concern remains that those
who self-select into volunteering may somehow be dif-
ferent than those who choose not to volunteer. Indeed,
research has shown that individuals who report higher
levels of happiness also report more interest in helping
others (Feingold, 1983) and greater intention to perform
kind or altruistic acts at work (Williams & Shiaw, 1999).
This makes it unclear whether altruism-related benets
could still be experienced when helping other people is
obligatory, as is the case in many positive psychology
interventions. Because most altruism benets have been
studied in naturalistic settings and on people who choose
to spend their time behaving prosocially (e.g. Oman,
Thoresen, & McMahon, 1999; Rietschlin, 1998; Wilson
& Musick, 1999), more research is needed on whether
forced kindness,where individuals are required to help
others regardless of autonomous motivation, elicits
similar well-being benets.
Weinstein and Ryan (2010) have specically argued
that autonomous motivation of the volunteer is necessary
for both the giver and receiver of the good deed to expe-
rience well-being benets. This may be because the qual-
ity of help and the effort put into helping from
autonomously motivated people is greater, which posi-
tively affects the relationship between the giver and the
receiver. Other researchers (Deci & Ryan, 1985;Nix,
Ryan, Manly, & Deci, 1999) have suggested that when
people volunteer for external reasons (e.g. being
convinced by others to do so or when forced), they lose
the sense of personal competence otherwise associated
with autonomously motivated kind acts and, therefore,
many of the benets. One study even found that extrin-
sic motives for volunteering were associated with
decreased volunteer satisfaction (Finkelstein, Penner, &
Brannick, 2005). In addition, the feeling of connection
that often appears between the givers and receivers of
help is diminished if autonomous motivation is not
present on the side of the giver (Deci & Ryan, 1985;
Nix et al., 1999).
Despite these concerns over non-autonomously moti-
vated kindness, positive psychology interventions have
successfully manipulated prosocial behavior experimen-
tally, resulting in multiple well-being benets (Seligman,
2003). This is typically done via interventions where
*Corresponding author. Email:
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The Journal of Positive Psychology, 2014
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individuals perform random acts of kindness (RAK),
often over the course of several weeks. For example, in
one study, participants who engaged in 10 weeks of
RAKs reported higher happiness and subjective well-
being and lower negative affect (NA) at a one-month
follow-up as compared to controls who did not partici-
pate in RAKs (Tkach, 2006). Alden and Trew (2013)
also found that people with high social anxiety who
engaged in kind acts for four weeks sustained higher PA
over the course of the study vs. controls. Forced kind-
ness has also been shown to effectively increase student
happiness and subjective well-being. For example,
students who performed ve acts of kindness one day
per week showed a signicant increase in well-being
over a six-week period compared with a control group
(Lyubomirsky, Sheldon, & Schkade, 2005; Lyubomirsky,
Tkach, & Sheldon, 2004). Similarly, preadolescent
students who performed three acts of kindness every
week for four weeks experienced greater peer acceptance
(Layous, Nelson, Oberle, Schonert-Reichl, & Lyubomirsky,
2012). These types of ndings have also been echoed
cross-culturally, suggesting some universal benets of
kindness interventions (e.g. Layous, Lee, Choi, &
Lyubomirsky, 2013; Otake, Shimai, Tanaka-Matsumi,
Otsui, & Fredrickson, 2006). For example, one study
conducted in the United States and South Korea found
that participants from both cultures increased in well-
being when performing kind acts over a few weeks
(Layous et al., 2013).
As is evident from the above examples, most of these
studies require multiple weeks of effort and kindness
behavior. This leaves open an important question: Do
very brief kindness activities (e.g. a single day, a few
minutes) have benets? To date, only a few studies have
examined this. While not forcedkindness, two early
studies found that participants who were asked by a con-
federate for help on a single occasion reported greater
positive mood than those who were not given the oppor-
tunity to help (Harris, 1977; Williamson & Clark, 1989).
A more relevant study investigated whether a specic
and mandated act of prosocial behavior on a single day
would increase mood. This study determined that partici-
pants who were randomly assigned to spend $5 or $20
on others were happier at the end of the day than those
who spent the same amount of money on themselves
(Dunn, Aknin, & Norton, 2008). While the evidence
available is narrow, these studies suggest that some
specic acts of help, even short-lived ones, may have
benets for the giver of the good deed.
Relevant here is that one of the most popular con-
cepts in the area of kindness interventions (e.g. in the
media and positive psychology instruction) is completing
a random act of kindness via a pay it forward(PIF)
activity, often over one day or during a single interac-
tion. PIF encompasses the idea that receivers of good
deeds can repay altruistic behavior by helping others
instead of directly reciprocating to the original giver of
the act. PIF activities ask individuals to complete an act
of kindness and then to encourage the recipients to con-
tinue the chain of kindness. The PIF concept dates back
to the 317 BC play Dyskolos, in which one of the main
characters says everyone has a responsibility to make
rich as many people as you can by your own efforts
(807808). More recently, the concept was popularized
in a movie of the same name (Abrams & Leder, 2000;
Ryan-Hyde, 1999). To our knowledge, the broadly
advertised single-day/brief PIF activity has yet to be
empirically examined, despite massive campaigns (Pay It
Forward Foundation, 2013) and broad public endorse-
ment. For example, this year alone, over 800,000 indi-
viduals have posted a PIF-style promise on their
Facebook proles (Meyer, 2014). Thus, while the theory
behind PIF is popular, no study has tested whether a
one-time forced altruismPIF activity (like that exe-
cuted on Pay it Forward Day) increases well-being in
the giver and/or whether the good deeds are spread.
While there are related longer-lasting kindness studies,
and a handful of studies of brief events of kindness, it is
clear that there are notable gaps in the literature. This
study will test whether utilizing the PIF concept speci-
cally results in benets to the givers of kindness despite
the short period of execution and the lack of autonomous
Another noted hole in past kindness studies is that
the receiver of kindness is frequently ignored. Although
the benets of doing good on the actor are well docu-
mented in volunteer studies and in the RAK activities
discussed above, the benets for the receiver are less
consistent and/or less documented. There are reasons to
believe that kind acts may not always be benecial for
receivers. For example, while receiving support has been
shown to increase feelings of competence, social connec-
tion, and closeness (Gleason, Iida, Bolger, & Shrout,
2003; Gore, 1981), researchers have discovered that it
can also challenge an individuals sense of self-esteem
and autonomy (Ryan & Solky, 1996) and lead to nega-
tive self-attributions (Newsom, 1999) as well as feelings
of sadness and anxiety (Maisel & Gable, 2009). Correla-
tional designs in some of these studies leave open the
possibility that NA can elicit received support; however,
it also a real possibility that getting help can have draw-
backs. Despite this, it should be noted that support
gures in these studies are typically close family and
friends. The support in PIF is qualitatively different
because it is not necessarily being provided in response
to stress or NA and it is typically coming from a stran-
ger. Therefore, it is plausible that participants in PIF
style kindness activities will not suffer the same negative
impacts due to reduced threat to their self-esteem and/or
a lack of guilt about the support they are receiving.
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To this end, hospital-based and home-based visitor
programs where kindness is provided by volunteers
unknown to the recipient are popular, and studies have
reported a wealth of related benets such as lower medi-
cation use, increased happiness and vigor, and increased
cognitive functioning (Reinke, Holmes, & Denney, 1981;
Schulz, 1976; Wheeler et al., 1998). Also unique to PIF
is the possibility that individuals can help someone else
in return, potentially ameliorating the negative effects
described above. With these factors in play (i.e. kindness
from strangers and the ability to pay it backto help
others), receivers of PIF kindness should show
well-being benets from the PIF activity.
The primary goals of the current study were to rst,
determine the psychological impact of a one-time, brief
PIF style intervention on the individuals who do good
for others (i.e. the givers) and second, to assess the bene-
ts of being on the receiving end of this activity (i.e. the
receivers). We hypothesized that the intervention would
increase levels of positive affect (PA) and reduce NA for
the givers. Because of the nature of this type of interven-
tion, baseline levels of affective state could not be col-
lected for receivers since they are picked naturally in the
moment, and asking them to ll out a survey would dis-
rupt the ow of the interaction. Therefore, in order to
assess PA benets to receivers, we assessed whether
community members interacting with the group were
more likely to smile (and smile to a greater degree) as
compared to the control participants who did not interact
with the PIF group. While different from self-reported
PA, smiling has long been shown to communicate
pleasurable experiences (Messinger, Cassel, Acosta,
Ambadar, & Cohn, 2008). While smiles can be articial
(i.e. not indicating positive affect), researchers have
identied Duchenne smiles (with both cheek and eye
muscle activity; Duchenne, 1862/1990) as markers of
sincere positive emotion (Ekman, Davidson, & Friesen,
1990; Ekman & Friesen, 1982).
Because of the novelty of the PIF paradigm in
research, additional exploratory analyses were conducted
in order to gain insight into various aspects of the inter-
vention, including an examination of whether existing
characteristics of participants (e.g. demographics, affect)
correlated with the efcacy of the activity. Finally, we
examined whether individuals who were on the receiving
end of the activity actually intended to do a good deed
for someone else, and whether those who had engaged
in a good deed experienced higher well-being. Although
our intervention is more similar to a brief RAK interven-
tion (because the givers are at the beginning of the PIF
chain of good deeds), this nal investigation allowed us
to determine whether this chain had been successfully
initiated and/or whether receivers of good deeds felt
compelled to PIF themselves.
Two separate groups were of interest throughout the
current study: the givers (those delivering the PIF
activity) and the receivers (those receiving kind acts from
the givers). Because of this, methods and results will be
split to display the results for these groups separately.
Participants in the giver group were 83 individuals
enrolled in a positive psychology course at a large
Midwestern University (59% female, 87.5% Caucasian,
aged 1956 years with a mean age of 22.6). Participants
consented to participate in research over the course of the
semester in the rst week of classes (study was approved
by the University of Kansas Human Subjects committee).
Participants were randomized into 10 giver PIF groups
that roamed the university campus and the broader
Lawrence, Kansas, community for approximately 90 min.
The receiver group included any individual (e.g. com-
munity member, faculty, student, staff) who happened to
be close in proximity to one of the PIF groups. This
included 1014 individuals who were recipients of the PIF
activity and 251 individuals utilized as control subjects
(e.g. individuals who were not part of the activity because
of distance or because they were encountered after the
activity was complete). All individuals in the recipient
group had their faces coded by students trained to identify
Duchenne and non-Duchenne smiles. Self-reported demo-
graphic information on receivers was not collected given
our desire not to interfere with the natural ow of the
interactions, in addition to the large number of receivers
as compared to coders and the brief time span. A small
subsample of receivers (N= 48) voluntarily completed an
online self-report questionnaire shortly after the activity to
examine whether they engaged in PIF themselves and to
report on their mood state.
Givers: pre-post intervention measures
Mood (state affect) change due to PIF activity in the
givers was tested via a pre-post measurement of the
20-item state PANAS assessment (Watson, Clark, &
Tellegen, 1988), as well as the PANAS-X joviality scale
(Watson & Clark, 1994). Both measures have been
shown to be reliable and valid in measuring positive and
negative affect (Crawford & Henry, 2004; Watson,
1988). Items relating to other positive constructs were
drawn from dispositional scales and reworded to ask
about how they felt over the last day, including gratitude
(assessed with gratitude scale items gratefuland thank-
ful) (McCullough, Emmons, & Tsang, 2002), optimism
(assessed with items hopefuland optimistic) (Scheier,
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Carver, & Bridges, 1994), and satised with my life
(Diener, Emmons, Larsen, & Grifn, 1985). Items were
all ranked on a 04 scale, where 0 indicated very slightly
or not at all and 4 indicated extremely. This pretest was
administered to givers one week before the PIF interven-
tion. The posttest was available one day after the inter-
vention and was completed by the last participant four
days post-activity.
Givers: pre-intervention disposition
In addition to these pre-post intervention measures, par-
ticipants also completed a number of questionnaires three
months before the activity. These were used to determine
whether baseline characteristics would alter the experi-
ence of the PIF activity. Satisfaction with life was mea-
sured using the ve-item Satisfaction with Life Scale
(Diener et al., 1985). Example items included, The con-
ditions of my life are excellentand In most ways my
life is close to my ideal.Gratitude was measured using
the six-item Gratitude Questionnaire (McCullough et al.,
2002), which included items like I have so much to be
grateful forand If I had to list everything that I felt
grateful for, it would be a very long list.Optimism was
measured using the 10-item Life Orientation Test-
Revised (Scheier et al., 1994). Example items included I
am always optimistic about my futureand In uncertain
times, I usually expect the best.Trait affect was mea-
sured using a 19-item scale drawn from the Larsen and
Diener Circumplex model (Larsen & Diener, 1992).
Responses for this scale ranged from 0 to 4, with 0 indi-
cating that the item was not at all accurate and 4 indicat-
ing that the item was extremely accurate in describing
how the participant felt generally. Adjectives assessed a
range of positive (calm, happy, enthusiastic) and negative
(tired, nervous, sad) emotions. Three additional items
were also added to measure general stress and boredom
(overwhelmed, stressed, and bored; see Miller et al.,
Givers also self-reported demographic variables
including age, sex, and race.
Receivers: smiling
A set of giver participants were responsible for coding
facial expressions of receivers and controls. Coders were
trained via photographic displays and in-class instruction
on how to recognize the Duchenne smile (Duchenne,
1862/1990; Ekman & Friesen, 1982) via identication of
activity in both the zygomaticus major muscles (cheek)
and the orbicularis oculi muscles (adjoining the eye).
Non-Duchenne smiles (zygomaticus major activity only)
were coded as standardsmiles, and all other expressions
(negative, neutral) were coded as no smile.Smiling
behaviors were rated on a scale of 13 according to
degree of smile (3-Duchenne smile, 2-non-Duchenne
smile, 1-neutral/negative expression).
Receivers: self-reported effects of PIF
Participants were asked how likely they were to pay the
good deed forward on a scale from 1 to 7, 1 signifying
very unlikelyand 7 signifying very likely.Partici-
pants were asked whether or not they had already paid
the good deed forward, and, if so, to describe how they
did so.
Participants also reported current mood via a subset
of items drawn from the emotion scales discussed above
for givers. Positive emotion items included happiness,
cheerfulness, pride, excitement, thankfulness, and opti-
mism, and negative emotion items included anger,
stress, sadness, nervousness, and loneliness. The same
Likert scale described above for giverswas utilized.
Positive emotion scores were averaged to calculate a
positive mood recipient response, and negative emotion
scores were averaged to calculate a negative mood
One week prior to participating in the PIF event, givers
completed baseline mood questionnaires (demographics
and trait measures were assessed three months pre-activ-
ity). The day of the PIF activity, givers participated in
90 min of activities. Groups of givers were provided with
a geographic target area (e.g. inside ofce buildings, caf-
eterias, areas of campus), instructions, smiling scoring
sheets, and an array of suggested kind behaviors (e.g.
hold a door open, offer to help someone carry some-
thing, give a compliment, feed a parking meter, high ve
someone, pick something up for someone), as well as
gifts to give to individuals as they interacted with them
(e.g. chocolate, cookies, positive message cards, gifts,
and certicates donated by local merchants). Givers were
instructed to engage with and facially code whomever
they encountered. Whenever possible, recipients were
also informed of the PIF concept. Each giving group had
two individuals coding smiles of those who did and did
not participate in PIF.
Following PIF interactions, a small subset of receiv-
ers (at random) were offered a card containing a website
directing them to a survey about their experience with
PIF. Those who chose to complete the survey answered
questions anonymously about their current emotional
state and whether they paid it forwardby doing a good
deed. The survey was optional and participants were
offered the possibility of winning a $25 gift certicate if
they provided their email address. Givers and receivers
(given the survey card) were asked to complete the
follow-up surveys within 24 h.
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Facial coders were instructed to code control
participants both during PIF (e.g. if there were individu-
als on the other side of the street whose faces they could
see but who could not interact with the PIF group) and
after the PIF activity when good deeds were no longer
being completed. Participants had between a 10 and 30
min walk back to the meeting location to return materi-
als; thus, the majority of facial coding occurred once the
PIF activity was over, as individuals could easily code
faces on the way back to the larger group.
Statistical approach
Within-subjects t-tests were conducted for pre-interven-
tion and post-intervention data. Because not all givers
completed their follow-up surveys immediately following
the activity, an ANOVA was conducted to determine
whether amount of time post-intervention that the survey
was completed was correlated with mood change score
differences. Pearson correlation coefcient tests were
conducted to examine whether baseline traits were corre-
lated with the change scores resulting from the PIF activ-
ity (pre-post difference scores). ANOVA was utilized for
bivariate variables and group difference tests (e.g. for
facial expression comparisons across receivers and
controls). Partial correlations and ANCOVAs were
utilized when covariates were necessary.
Preliminary analyses
Seventy-eight participants completed both the pre- and
post-data and were considered in mood change analyses.
Five individuals were lost due to absence on the day of
the activity or missing surveys. The largest portion of
Time 2 data was collected within 24 h of the event
(43%), with the last student completing the questionnaire
four days after the event. Amount of time post-interven-
tion that the survey was completed was generally not
correlated with mood change score differences; however,
an ANOVA revealed that joviality (PANAS-X subscale)
was signicantly higher for those who completed the
response within 24 h of the activity (F(1,78) = 4.84,
p< 0.05), with a 1.12 unit increase in the within 24 h
group and a 0.75 unit increase in the late group (over
24 h post-intervention). This reveals that the effects of
the activity deteriorated over time, but were still present
several days after the intervention.
The PIF givers coded 1265 individuals for facial
expression, with approximately 175 of these participants
receiving cards with the website for a self-report survey
(500 cards were given to the givers to hand out at
random and 325 were returned). Participation in the
online survey was voluntary. The website link was
simply provided on the back of a card to random com-
munity members who interacted with the group, along
with a positive or complimentary saying on the front.
Forty-eight participants completed the online survey,
making the response rate approximately 27%. Of these
participants, 83% completed the questionnaire on the
same day as the PIF event. The last entry was approxi-
mately 48 h after the event.
Was the PIF intervention effective?
Positive and negative state affect. All mood change
results tested via pre-post paired sample t-tests were
signicant and in the anticipated directions. Participating
in PIF resulted in decreases in NA (t(78) = 4.53,
p< 0.001; d= 0.38) and increases in PA (t(78) = 8.40,
p< 0.001; d= 0.90), optimism (t(78) = 6.33, p< 0.001;
d= 0.67), gratitude (t(78) = 3.15, p< 0.001; d= 0.32),
life satisfaction (t(78) = 3.80, p< 0.001; d= 0.36), and
joviality (t(78) = 10.47, p< 0.001; d= 1.13). Mean dif-
ference scores (Time 2 Time 1) can be seen in Figure 1,
with the largest difference found in PANAS joviality and
the smallest in overall NA.
While all mean changes across the group were in the
expected directions, not all participants had the expected
direction of change. For example, optimism and gratitude
change scores had a range of 2to+3,PA2to+2,
life satisfaction 1 to + 2, NA 1.8 to + 0.8, and jovial-
ity 1 to + 3. This indicates differences in activity effec-
tiveness, with some givers showing negative effects from
the activity. However, these differences represented a
small percentage of the overall sample: only 2.5% of
givers showed a decrease in joviality, 5.1% in PA,
Figure 1. The magnitude of the mean change scores in
affect, optimism, and life satisfaction following PIF for givers
(+/SE). Scores are calculated as Time 2 Time 1.
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10.1% in hope, 11.4% in life satisfaction, and the largest
percentage (20.3%) showed a decrease in gratitude.
10.1% of givers showed an increase in NA after the PIF
Demographic and baseline differences in PIF effects.
Sex was associated with changes in the PANAS PA and
the PANAS joviality scales (Fs(1,67) = 11.08 and 9.15,
respectively, ps < 0.01), with females having larger PA
increases in response to the activity. This difference
persisted after controlling for post-intervention (T2) lag
measurement (how many days late T2 was; both
ps < 0.01) in an ANCOVA. Other change scores were in
the same direction (with females reporting greater bene-
ts), but nonsignicant. Race and age were not associ-
ated with mood outcomes; however, there was little
variance in these demographic measures (over 85%
white, 87.5% aged 25 and under).
Partial correlations controlling for sex were used to
examine baseline psychological traits as possible corre-
lates of the change effects of PIF. Generally, baseline
traits did not predict PIF-related change scores, with a
few exceptions. Higher baseline optimism and stress
were both correlated with greater increases in optimism
during PIF (r= 0.37, p< 0.01 and r= 0.27, p= 0.05,
respectively). Greater NA at baseline was associated
with greater increases in joviality following PIF
(r= 0.31, p< 0.05). Controlling additionally for T2
survey lag time for the NA analysis (given the known
association with joviality) did not substantially alter this
association (new r= 0.30, p< 0.05).
Smiling. Individuals who interacted with the PIF group
(N= 1014) showed signicantly greater smiling expres-
sions than those who did not interact with the group
(N= 251) (F(1,1263) = 246.16, p< 0.001) (Figure 2). Of
the controls, 59% were not smiling vs. only 15.1% in
the PIF receiver group. Similarly, only 14.3% of controls
had Duchenne smiles vs. 51.3% of those who interacted
with the PIF group.
Did the receivers PIF?
Online survey participants were also asked how likely
they were to PIF on a 1 (will not PIF) to 7 (denitely
will PIF) scale. The mean was 6.35 for respondents, and
all but one participant (who answered with a 1) rated a 5
or above on this scale. Of these, 38.5% had already paid
it forward at the time of the questionnaire. These acts
ranged from picking up books for someone, telling a
stranger to have a wonderful day, smiling at strangers,
holding doors open, giving away or sharing food, com-
plimenting others, hugging others, giving up a seat on
the bus, helping someone with work or homework, and
donating blood.
Self-reported psychological impacts. Receivers who
completed the PIF online survey had a positive mood
mean of 3.22 on a 04 scale (SD = 0.52, range = 1.74)
and a negative mood mean of 0.98 on a 04 scale
(SD = 0.73, range = 02.2).When examining differences
between those who had already engaged in a kind deed
vs. those who had not yet done so, there was no overall
difference in PA or NA, although there were nonsigni-
cant trends in specictypes of emotions. Individuals
who had already engaged in a kind act trended toward
more excitement (F(1,45) = 3.89, p= 0.05), more
happiness (F(1,45) = 3.3, p= 0.08), and less anger
(F(1,45) = 3.318, p= 0.08).
This study is the rst to show that a one-time, brief PIF
style intervention can positively impact the well-being of
both givers and receivers of the activity in the days
immediately following the experience. For both groups,
the intervention most effectively increased positive con-
structs but also had some benets in decreasing negative
affectivity. PIF givers reported increased overall PA,
optimism, gratitude, life satisfaction, and joviality, with
the largest changes found in PA and joviality. This is not
surprising given that state affect is likely easier to
manipulate via a short activity as compared to more
Figure 2. Average smiling differences (+/SE) between indi-
viduals who interacted with the PIF group (intervention) vs.
those who did not (control). Smiles were coded so that 1 indi-
cates no smile, 2 indicates a standard [non-Duchenne] smile,
and 3 indicates a Duchenne smile.
6S.D. Pressman et al.
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stable factors such as life satisfaction or optimism. These
ndings contradict previous research that has indicated
that autonomous motivation is necessary for psychologi-
cal benets for both givers and recipients of help, as the
PIF activity was a forced kindness intervention. Partici-
pation was assigned as a class activity and givers were
not permitted to miss it except for illness or emergency.
These ndings also add on to past studies showing bene-
ts of extended periods of kind activities (e.g. Layous
et al., 2012; Lyubomirsky et al., 2004; Lyubomirsky,
Sheldon, et al., 2005) by showing that even brief activi-
ties can alter well-being up to a couple of days later. It
also adds to the small literature showing that brief
prosocial acts can also have mood benets for the
giver (Dunn, Aknin, & Norton, 2008; Harris, 1977;
Williamson & Clark, 1989), and is the rst to document
receiver benets in this context.
Although the widespread commercial popularity of
the PIF concept led to strong hypotheses that a PIF inter-
vention would lead to positive outcomes, less certainty
remained about whether PIF would be effective for
everyone. While there were ranges of responses to the
activity from the givers, demographic factors such as age
and ethnicity were not connected with self-reported
mood change. The only demographic factor that made a
signicant difference for the givers was sex, with
females reporting higher increases in PA and joviality
than males. It may be that females benet more, but
more likely this is an example of emotional reporting
differences and affect intensity differences frequently
found in the psychological literature (e.g. Fujita, Diener
& Sandvik, 1991; Kring & Gordon, 1998). Similarly,
baseline trait affect did not predict major PIF effects,
with the exceptions of baseline optimism (which pre-
dicted higher increases in optimism/hope), baseline stress
(which also predicted greater increases in optimism/
hope), and negative affect (which predicted higher levels
of joviality after the activity). This suggests that those
with more negative affect and stress might especially
benet from a PIF activity. Alternatively, this could also
be partially due to ceiling effects since these high NA
individuals have more room to change in their
well-being scores.
When considering the small percentage of people
who experienced negative effects from PIF (2.520.3%
depending on the outcome), it remains unclear as to who
these individuals are. Qualitative descriptions of the
experience not described in the results suggest that some
of those who did not like the intervention were more
introverted and shy (e.g. I am kind of shy, so putting
myself out there like that was uncomfortableand I was
really nervous for the activity, I usually do not like walk-
ing up and starting conversations with random people)
or did not like that some individuals were unresponsive
to them (e.g. It made me a little sad that people were so
unresponsive). Given these types of descriptions, it is
possible that introversion or other social relationship
relevant factors might predict the effectiveness of this
type of activity. Future research should include these
types of variables.
Social activity may be an important mediating factor
of the positive effects of the PIF intervention on both
givers and receivers. All individuals engaged in the PIF
intervention as part of a group, and the activity involved
doing something prosocial for another person. The other
people mattereffect (Peterson, 2006) is well established
in the health and well-being literature, with social con-
nections being tied to increased longevity, increased
physical health, increased cognitive performance, and
better mental health (Holt-Lunstad, Smith, & Layton,
2010; House, Landis, & Umberson, 1988; Robles,
Slatcher, Trombello, & McGinn, 2014). Thus, testing this
as an individual activity or having individuals do good
online, where feelings of social connectedness may be
reduced, would be interesting follow-ups.
Recipients also beneted from the intervention. They
showed greater levels of Duchenne smiles (51.3%
receivers vs. 14.3% controls) and very few non-smiles
(15.1% receivers vs. 59% controls), providing behavioral
evidence that this activity was sincerely enjoyable and
pleasant for recipients. While self-report data days later
may have been a better indicator of the lasting effects of
this activity, it is clear that in the moment, the majority
of individuals who received kindness from the PIF activ-
ity sincerely enjoyed it, as evidenced by only a small
percentage of individuals not showing Duchenne or stan-
dard smiles in response to the interaction. A subset of
receivers reported their affect in the day(s) following the
PIF event and revealed very high means for positive
mood and low means for negative mood. While there is
no control group or baseline data for this sample, means
on the same scales were retrieved from a University of
Kansas Health Psychology course (N= 48) a few weeks
after the PIF activity (during a non-examination week)
as a comparison point (not reported in results). Indeed,
mean positive mood for this non-PIF group was signi-
cantly lower than the receivers of the PIF activity (mean
of 2.6 vs. 3.2 on a 04 scale, F(1,96) = 5.12, p< 0.05).
While not a perfect control group, this does indicate that
the recipients of the PIF activity were generally feeling
quite positive. Thus, unlike some studies of received
social support, when an individual receives help or kind-
ness in the context of PIF, the receiver responds posi-
tively as evidenced by positive emotional expression
and, to some extent, in self-reports of mood. Future
studies should explore the mechanisms underlying these
benets as compared to studies of support (e.g. Is self-
esteem maintained? Is this due to it being a stranger or
because of the ability to PIF to someone else in need?),
and should explore the mood benets more explicitly.
The Journal of Positive Psychology 7
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Although results reveal that PIF was effective for
both the givers and receivers, there were a number of
limitations. First, givers were not blind to the hypothesis
that PIF should increase well-being. Most positive
psychology interventions face this limitation because it is
difcult to mask hypotheses when mood is being overtly
manipulated. That being said, givers were told repeatedly
that not all positive psychological interventions work for
everyone, and, accordingly, some givers reported
decreases in PA and increases in NA. Furthermore,
givers took the state affect pretest one week before the
PIF activity, so it is unlikely that they remembered their
initial reported affect levels. Next, because givers rated
facial expressions, it is possible that demand characteris-
tics played a role in their ratings of receivers. That being
said, student participants were extensively trained in sci-
entic research methodology as part of the course con-
tent, and this was not their rst research project or their
rst experience with facial coding. Another potential
concern is that those who elected to participate as receiv-
ers were inherently different from those who did not
interact with the PIF group. Instructing givers to interact
with and code every encountered individual minimized
this limitation. This included those who quickly walked
by (e.g. grabbed a cookie and kept going, read a free
hugsign and declined) as well as those who interacted
for longer periods. It also encompassed interactions with
individuals who had no choice but to be PIF receivers
(e.g. individuals in ofces who were visited) because
they were in a room that was coded in its entirety.
Another concern may be that students in a positive
psychology class (i.e. the giver sample) may not be
representative of the broader general population. Most
notably, although these students were forcedto take
part in this intervention, they may not have truly felt
forced because of the voluntary nature of their decision
to sign up for the class and their previous interest in the
subject matter. This may limit the generalizability of
these results; however, this volunteer bias is similar to
that of any participant who signs up voluntarily for any
research study. Future studies should include a measure
of person-activity t to assess the degree to which partic-
ipants are truly forcedto participate in the intervention
and attempt to recruit givers of PIF by other means.
Finally, demand characteristics may have also played a
role in our giver results. To prevent this, we encouraged
honesty and maintained anonymity via online anonymous
surveys. We also emphasized that not everyone would
necessarily benet from this activity; however, it is still
possible that demand played some role in study results.
Another limitation of this study is the lack of ideal
control groups. For the receivers, facial expression cod-
ers did their best to code faces from individuals who
were unaffected by the intervention (e.g. those who were
not near a kindness interaction, individuals who were
encountered after the activity was complete), and most
control data were recorded after the intervention was
over. However, there may still have been some spillover
effects as compared to if data had been collected on a
random day when no PIF activities were happening. In
the future, raters who are blind to hypotheses should
walk around before and after the intervention and code
natural facial expressions, and, ideally, receivers would
be video recorded so blinded raters could more
accurately rate expressions. For givers, baseline control
comparison data were collected ahead of time (one week
pre-PIF); however, a comparison group of participants
doing pre-post mood assessments before a walk around
campus would also be useful. Because of the lack of a
control group, results may be due to alternative explana-
tions. For example, givers may have received a mood
boost due to the novelty of walking around campus with
their friends and participating in an activity other than
sitting in a lecture hall. We should note here, however,
that givers had participated in eight other positive psy-
chology interventions over the course of the semester,
including others that involved outdoor group activities.
PIF was one of the last activities they participated in;
therefore, it is unlikely that these ndings are due to a
uniqueness-related mood boost. Unfortunately, due to the
nature of this activity (e.g. as a classroom-based
intervention over a single brief time period) and the
desire to keep the interactions natural, it was not possible
to remedy these specic concerns.
Although PIF aims to create a chain of good deeds,
this also could not be perfectly tested due to constraints
of the study design. There was a low survey self-report
response rate (under 30%), partially due to our desire to
not alter the altruistic nature and ow of the interaction.
Individuals were not pressured to visit the website, and
given that university samples are already bombarded
with survey requests, the low response rate was not sur-
prising. This did hinder our ability to adequately assess
whether individuals completed a good deed at a later
point in time. It is possible that individuals who com-
pleted the survey benetted the most from the interven-
tion, although we attempted to minimize this issue by
incentivizing people to take the survey with the
possibility of winning a small prize (e.g. gift certicates).
Of the recipients who responded to the online survey,
almost 40% reported paying a good deed forward at the
time of the survey (up to 48 h post-intervention), and
nearly all respondents reported that they intended to
complete a good deed (54.2% of the sample said they
would denitely PIF, and the mean for likelihood of
doing it in the future was 6.35 on a seven-point likeli-
hood scale). This may provide one explanation for why
we did not see large self-reported mood differences
between people who had already paid it forward at the
time of the survey and people who had not yet done so.
8S.D. Pressman et al.
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The people who had not yet paid it forward may have
already been planning and envisioning the good deeds
they would do, which may have increased their PA even
though they had yet to take action. Furthermore, recipi-
ents of the intervention already had high levels of PA, so
a ceiling effect may have been present. Because of the
nature of the study, brief and short survey items were
necessary, including some that were not previously vali-
dated in this format (although all items had been used in
previous scales and adjectives hung well together based
on a factor analysis of the items).
Because this study is the rst of its kind, there are
many directions for future research to take. Although
both the givers and receivers experienced benets from
the PIF activity, our study did not address why these
benets occurred and for how long. Future research
should examine the psychological processes that lead to
these outcomes, the specic types of good deed
activities responsible for the found results, the duration
of the effects, and whether specic types of people will
benet most (or not benet) from this activity.
Overall, our brief PIF activity was successful,
providing benets to both the givers and receivers of the
intervention, regardless of individual differences in demo-
graphic variables or baseline traits. Individuals reported
qualitatively that it was fun,’‘inspirational,’‘mood
lifting,and life changing.Furthermore, technology is
making it easier to promote and complete PIF activities
through mobile apps designed to promote acts of kindness
and track good deeds as they are spread forward (i.e. Ripil;
Mobileaze LLC, 2014). With mobile apps such as these, it
may become easier to test the ultimatePIF intervention,
which includes the ability to track whether the good deeds
are paid forward and how far the chain of kindness
reaches. Given that this activity was inexpensive to
execute, lasted less than two hours, was easy to implement,
and was broadly benecial, future researchers and interven-
tionists should encourage individuals to continue to use
this type of activity for positive emotion enhancement.
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... Researchers explain these behaviors with frameworks of evolutionary biology, physiological models, and positive psychology [53,65]. Witnessing or experiencing acts of kindness can also propel a person to be generous towards others (pay-itforward), a form of social contagion of behavior [32,34,41,54,73,82]. ...
... It is well known that generosity is a contagious human behavior [54,73], meaning those who receive or observe a generous act are more likely to pay it forward by being generous to others. There are two distinct types of generosity contagion [73]: ...
... Second, players may be drawn to the quality of friendships they formed, which could either develop as a desire to play with their existing friends, or a desire to form new connections. Third, studies have shown that people enjoy reciprocating generosity or paying it forward [54,73]; therefore their continued gameplay could be a manifestation of their urge to extend the generosity. Though why humans remain generous and altruistic towards others remains largely unsolved, many believe that generosity leaves a feel-good sensation in people [65]. ...
Full-text available
Understanding social interactions and generous behaviors have long been of considerable interest in the social science community. While the contagion of generosity is documented in the real world, less is known about such phenomenon in virtual worlds and whether it has an actionable impact on user behavior and retention. In this work, we analyze social dynamics in the virtual world of the popular massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) Sky: Children of Light. We develop a framework to reveal the patterns of generosity in such social environments and provide empirical evidence of social contagion and contagious generosity. Players become more engaged in the game after playing with others and especially with friends. We also find that players who experience generosity first-hand or even observe other players conduct generous acts become more generous themselves in the future. Additionally, we show that both receiving and observing generosity lead to higher future engagement in the game. Since Sky resembles the real world from a social play aspect, the implications of our findings also go beyond this virtual world.
... It is suggested that kind behaviors that are courteous or altruistic may help people recognize their abilities to help others, which cultivates positive feelings to themselves (Lyubomirsky et al., 2005b). Consequently, positive experiences may promote positive emotions in the long term, leading to a higher level of wellbeing (Pressman et al., 2015). As well as the person performing the kind act, people who receive kindness could also have improved wellbeing. ...
... As well as the person performing the kind act, people who receive kindness could also have improved wellbeing. People who received kindness have been found to show higher levels of smiling expressions, which reflected more sincere joy, compared to those who did not interact with people performing kind acts (Pressman et al., 2015). A thematic analysis found that receiving kindness was reported to increase wellbeing beyond experiencing pleasure but also selfconfidence, self-actualization and sense of mastery (Filep et al., 2017). ...
... Consequently, participants could establish a close connection with the sender and the world because they felt cared for and loved by others. The benefits of receiving kindness that have been evidenced were mainly about the positive affective impacts Pressman et al., 2015;Nadler, 2017) or one's self-efficacy, feeling of fulfillment and closeness in intimate relationships (Gleason et al., 2003(Gleason et al., , p. 1042. The qualitative results in this study suggested that receiving kindness from the KBP could improve wellbeing, and it could also help with the collective aspects of loneliness that people felt more included in society. ...
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Background Random acts of kindness can improve wellbeing. However, less is known about the impacts of giving and receiving acts of kindness with strangers on wellbeing and loneliness. Therefore, this study’s objectives were to evaluate a participatory public mental health project involving sending and receiving a card with goodwill messages, to understand how such acts of kindness influence wellbeing and loneliness, and to investigate the potential mechanisms underlying the project’s impacts. Materials and Methods This study was an analysis of anonymized service evaluation data collected in the ‘Kindness by Post’ (KBP) project in 2020. It used a mixed-methods single-group design and data from 289 participants. Changes in wellbeing, loneliness, sense of belonging and hope from baseline (12th–14th February) to follow-up (26th February–2nd March) were analyzed using linear or multinomial logistic regression. Regression models also examined the associations between changes in wellbeing and baseline loneliness or participation level. Free text responses about experiences and suggestions for the project were analyzed using thematic analysis. Results Participants had a small, but statistically significant improvement, in wellbeing equating to 0.21 standard deviations (95% CI: 0.12–0.30) after taking part in the project, as well as improvements in loneliness, sense of belonging and hope. How lonely a participant was at baseline and whether participants both sent and received a kindness card were not associated with improvements in wellbeing. In the qualitative analysis, a desire to help others emerged as the main motivator to take part in the card exchange. Participants reported enhanced personal fulfillment, leading to improvements in wellbeing. Receiving a card could make people feel special and cherished, which was reported to establish a sense of connection with others, with potential benefits for reducing loneliness. Conclusion This study provided preliminary evidence that the KBP project might improve wellbeing, loneliness, sense of belonging and hope. Sending a kindness card in this project played a predominant role in wellbeing enhancement, and receiving a kindness card could reduce loneliness. This study suggests that the KBP project can be replicated in more contexts in the future, and might improve wellbeing and loneliness in large communities.
... Past studies have shown that benefit-triggered gratitude interventions (i.e., gratitude letters) evoke immediate increases in positive emotions such as joy and happiness, as well as unpleasant experiences like indebtedness and guilt [8]. Such mixed experiences (especially indebtedness) may prompt people to want to improve themselves because they feel a need to repay the kindness of a benefactor or at least pay it forward to someone else [16,18,19]. Gratitude can also motivate indirect reciprocity [20]. ...
... Gratitude has generally been regarded as motivating and energizing [58][59][60]. Thus, gratitude may not only prompt people to pay kindness back to benefactors but also inspire them to pay it forward to others [16,18,19]. Researchers have speculated that gratitude could strengthen one's resources for coping with a challenge [61], decrease self-destructive behaviors, and increase personally beneficial behaviors [17], all of which could be important for self-improvement endeavors. ...
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Although gratitude is typically conceptualized as a positive emotion, it may also induce socially-oriented negative feelings, such as indebtedness and guilt. Given its mixed emotional experience, we argue that gratitude motivates people to improve themselves in important life domains. Two single-time point studies tested the immediate emotional and motivational effects of expressing gratitude. We recruited employees (N = 224) from French companies in Study 1 and students (N = 1,026) from U.S. high schools in Study 2. Participants in both studies were randomly assigned to either write gratitude letters to benefactors or outline their weekly activities (control condition). Expressing gratitude led to a mixed emotional experience (e.g., greater elevation and indebtedness) for both employees and students relative to controls. Students also felt more motivated and capable of improving themselves, as well as conveyed stronger intentions to muster effort towards self-improvement endeavors.
... The social contagion theory stipulates that emotive states and behaviors can spread through social networks, not unlike the transmission of pathogens [19,57], either intentionally or unintentionally. A wealth of literature has demonstrated that effects of social influence on the adoption of behavior-smoking [18], eating [65], happiness [26,29], depression [71], generosity [68,80], and more. With careful experiment setups, social contagion can also be readily observed on social media [21,26,40,49,61]. ...
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Stating your gender pronouns, along with your name, is becoming the new norm of self-introductions at school, at the workplace, and online. The increasing prevalence and awareness of nonconforming gender identities put discussions of developing gender-inclusive language at the forefront. This work presents the first empirical research on gender pronoun usage on large-scale social media. Leveraging a Twitter dataset of over 2 billion tweets collected continuously over two years, we find that the public declaration of gender pronouns is on the rise, with most people declaring as using she series pronouns, followed by he series pronouns, and a smaller but considerable amount of non-binary pronouns. From analyzing Twitter posts and sharing activities, we can discern users who use gender pronouns from those who do not and also distinguish users of various gender identities. We further illustrate the relationship between explicit forms of social network exposure to gender pronouns and their eventual gender pronoun adoption. This work carries crucial implications for gender-identity studies and initiates new research directions in gender-related fairness and inclusion, as well as support against online harassment and discrimination on social media.
... Positive psychology interventions (PPIs), are the behavioral and cognitive strategies designed to generate greater states of wellbeing, including positive emotions, as well as the actions and thoughts that underpin behaviors known to enhance it, including sleep. Examples of PPIs include acts of kindness (Kerr et al., 2015;Pressman et al., 2015) and self-compassion (Warren et al., 2016). A systematic review that specifically explored the effect of gratitude interventions upon physical health revealed that, of eight, five reported a significant improvement to sleep quality (Boggiss et al., 2020), with single studies showing the same (Alkozei et al., 2019;Jackowska et al., 2016). ...
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Positive psychology interventions hold great promise as schools around the world look to increase the wellbeing of young people. To reach this aim, a program was developed to generate positive emotions, as well as improve life satisfaction, mental toughness and perceptions of school kindness in 538 expatriate students in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Starting in September 2019, the program included a range of positive psychology interventions such as gratitude, acts of kindness and mental contrasting as examples. Life satisfaction and mental toughness at mid-year were sustained or grew by the end of the year. Positive affect, emotional wellbeing and social wellbeing increased at post-intervention 1, compared to baseline. However, this improvement reverted to baseline levels at post-intervention 2, when data were collected during the COVID-19 pandemic. Only psychological wellbeing, negative affect, perceptions of control, and school kindness were increased at post-intervention 2. During the lockdown, students moved less, but slept and scrolled more. Those who extended their sleep duration reported greater wellbeing. Boosting wellbeing through the use of positive psychology interventions works – even in a pandemic – and extended sleep duration appears to be a driving factor for this observation.
... This is a domain with many practical implications: Prosocial behaviours have been linked to consequential outcomes for both helper and help recipient (e.g. Curry et al., 2018;Pressman et al., 2015). Some of these outcomes depend on how a decision to help or not to help is interpreted (e.g. ...
People have multiple opportunities to act prosocial any given day but only limited resources to do so (e.g. time, effort and money they are willing to invest). We test whether people prefer to diversify their prosocial efforts across different types of help: casual help, direct help, indirect help and emotional support. In two daily diary studies (total N = 711), we examine whether previous prosocial behaviour affects subsequent prosocial behaviour for the same or other types of prosocial behaviour. We found that day-to-day prosocial behaviours reflected a diversified helping pattern. Participants were less likely to help the same way (i.e. the same type of prosocial behaviour) on subsequent days and more likely to help in different ways (i.e. a different type of prosocial behaviour). This tendency did not extend to casual help in Study 2, implying that the next day reduction in doing the same type of prosocial behaviour is limited to prosocial behaviours that are at least somewhat effortful or time consuming.
... Research has established that experiencing meaning and purpose in life is vital to one's sense of well-being and health (Martela & Steger, 2016). Practicing acts of kindness (paying it forward) is one method of improving meaning, well-being, and life satisfaction as reported by Pressman et al. (2015) in their study ...
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Background/Aims/Objectives: In this mixed-methods research, we examined several psychology practices for their importance, usefulness, and potential to impact overall well-being during a worldwide pandemic (COVID-19). Participants were given a choice to practice Resilience, Empathy, Flow, Relationships, Appreciation, Meaning, or Embodiment; interventions symbolized by the word REFRAME.
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Background: Random acts of kindness can improve wellbeing. However, less is known about the impacts of giving and receiving acts of kindness with strangers on wellbeing and loneliness. Therefore, the study objectives were to evaluate a participatory public mental health project involving sending and receiving a card with goodwill messages, to understand how such acts of kindness influence wellbeing and loneliness, and to investigate the potential mechanisms underlying the impacts of the project. Materials and methods: This study was a secondary analysis of anonymised service evaluation data collected in the Kindness by Post (KBP) project in 2020. It used a mixed-methods single-group design and data from 289 participants. Changes in wellbeing, loneliness, sense of belonging and hope from baseline to follow-up were analysed using linear or multinomial logistic regression. Regression models also examined the associations between changes in wellbeing and baseline loneliness or participation level. Free text responses about experiences and suggestions for the project were analysed using thematic analysis. Results: Participants had a small, but statistically significant improvement, in wellbeing equating to 0.21 standard deviations (SD) (95% CI: 0.12 to 0.30) after taking part in the project, as well as improvements in loneliness, sense of belonging and hope. How lonely a participant was at baseline and whether participants both sent and received a kindness card were not associated with improvements in wellbeing. In the qualitative analysis, a desire to help others emerged as the main motivator to take part in the card exchange. Participants reported enhanced personal fulfilment, leading to improvements in wellbeing. Receiving a card could make people feel special and cherished, which was reported to establish a sense of connection with others, with potential benefits for reducing loneliness. Conclusions: This study provided preliminary evidence that the KBP project might improve wellbeing, loneliness, sense of belonging and hope. Sending a kindness card in this project played a predominant role in wellbeing enhancement, and receiving a kindness card could reduce loneliness. This study suggests that the KBP project can be replicated in more contexts in the future, and might improve wellbeing and loneliness in large communities.
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Background: As the number of people living with chronic illnesses increases, providing wide-reaching and easy-to-use support tools is becoming increasingly important. Supporting people in this group to recognize and use more of their personal strengths has the potential to improve their quality of life. With this in mind, we have developed the MyStrengths app prototype, a gamefully designed app aimed at aiding users in both identifying their strengths and using these strengths more actively in their daily life. Objective: The goal of this study was to evaluate the user-reported feasibility and usefulness of the MyStrengths app. The study additionally aimed to explore whether the use of MyStrengths could be associated with selected psychosocial outcomes. Methods: A 31-day explorative feasibility trial with a pretest-posttest design and an optional end of study interview was conducted. Data collection included system-use log data, demographic information, pre– and post–psychosocial measures (ie, strengths use, self-efficacy, health-related quality of life, depression), user experience measures (ie, usability, engagement, flow), and interview data. Results: In total, 34 people with at least 1 chronic condition were enrolled in the study, with 26 participants (mean age 48 years, range 29-62 years; 1 male) completing the trial. Among these individuals, 18 were also interviewed posttrial. Participants used the MyStrengths app an average of 6 days during the trial period, with 54% (14/26) using the app over a period of at least 19 days. In total, 8738 unique app actions were registered. Of the psychosocial outcome measures, only 1 subscale, general health in the RAND 36-Item Health Survey, yielded significant pre- and posttest changes. Posttrial interviews showed that the number of participants who considered the MyStrengths app to be useful, somewhat useful, or not useful was evenly distributed across 3 groups. However, every participant did voice support for the strengths approach. All participants were able to identify a multitude of personal strengths using the MyStrengths app. Most participants that reported it to be useful had little or no previous experience with the personal strengths approach. A multitude of users welcomed the gameful design choices, particularly the rolling die feature, suggesting strengths exercises, activities that use a specific strength, were well received. Conclusions: Although the reported usefulness and feedback from use varied, most participants were favorable to the strengths-focused approach to care and support. Consequently, low-threshold and wide-reaching mobile health tools that use a strengths-focused approach, such as MyStrengths, hold the potential to support people living with chronic illness in performing self-management and achieving mastery of their life.
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Research shows that performing positive activities, such as expressing gratitude and doing acts of kindness, boosts happiness. But do specific positive activities work equally well across cultures? Our study examined the role of culture–activity fit by testing two positive activities across two cultures. Participants from the United States (n = 250) and South Korea (n = 270) were randomly assigned to express gratitude, perform kind acts, or engage in a neutral activity for the first half of a 6-week positive activity intervention. Multilevel growth modeling analyses revealed that the effect of practicing gratitude or kindness was moderated by culture: U.S. participants increased in well-being (WB) from both activities, γ11 = 0.19, SE = 0.06, t(511) = 3.04, p = .0006; γ12= 0.11, SE = 0.06, t(511) = 1.73, p = .03 (compared with the control group), but South Korean participants benefited significantly less from practicing gratitude than did U.S. participants, γ13 = −0.24, SE = 0.07, t(511) = −3.36, p = .002. South Korean participants, however, showed similar increases in WB as did U.S. participants when performing kind acts, γ14 = −0.06, SE = 0.07, t(511) = −0.82, ns. Finally, although greater self-reported effort yielded significantly larger increases in WB for U.S. participants, the effect of effort was not as strong for South Korean participants. We posit that, due to their dialectical philosophical tradition, South Koreans might have been more prone to feel mixed emotions (e.g., indebtedness and gratitude) while engaging in the gratitude letter activity than did U.S. participants.
In four studies, the authors examined the correlates of the disposition toward gratitude. Study 1 revealed that self-ratings and observer ratings of the grateful disposition are associated with positive affect and well-being prosocial behaviors and traits, and religiousness/spirituality. Study 2 replicated these findings in a large nonstudent sample. Study 3 yielded similar results to Studies 1 and 2 and provided evidence that gratitude is negatively associated with envy and materialistic attitudes. Study 4 yielded evidence that these associations persist after controlling for Extraversion/positive affectivity, Neuroticism/negative affectivity, and Agreeableness. The development of the Gratitude Questionnaire, a unidimensional measure with good psychometric properties, is also described.
While insights sometimes are slow in coming, they often seem obvious when they finally arrive. This handbook is an outcome of the insight that the topics of social support and the family are very closely linked. Obvious as this might seem, the fact remains that the literatures dealing with social support and the family have been deceptively separate and distinct. For example, work on social support began in the 1970s with the accumulation of evidence that social ties and social integration play important roles in health and personal adjustment. Even though family members are often the key social supporters of individuals, relatively little re­ search of social support was targeted on family interactions as a path to specifying supporter processes. It is now recognized that one of the most important features of the family is its role in providing the individual with a source of support and acceptance. Fortunately, in recen t years, the distinctness and separateness of the fields of social support and the family have blurred. This handbook provides the first collation and integration of social support and family research. This integration calls for specifying processes (such as the cognitions associated with poor support availability and unrewarding faIllily constellations) and factors (such as cultural differences in family life and support provision) that are pertinent to integration.
I: Background.- 1. An Introduction.- 2. Conceptualizations of Intrinsic Motivation and Self-Determination.- II: Self-Determination Theory.- 3. Cognitive Evaluation Theory: Perceived Causality and Perceived Competence.- 4. Cognitive Evaluation Theory: Interpersonal Communication and Intrapersonal Regulation.- 5. Toward an Organismic Integration Theory: Motivation and Development.- 6. Causality Orientations Theory: Personality Influences on Motivation.- III: Alternative Approaches.- 7. Operant and Attributional Theories.- 8. Information-Processing Theories.- IV: Applications and Implications.- 9. Education.- 10. Psychotherapy.- 11. Work.- 12. Sports.- References.- Author Index.
This article reports the development and validation of a scale to measure global life satisfaction, the Satisfaction With Life Scale (SWLS). Among the various components of subjective well-being, the SWLS is narrowly focused to assess global life satisfaction and does not tap related constructs such as positive affect or loneliness. The SWLS is shown to have favorable psychometric properties, including high internal consistency and high temporal reliability. Scores on the SWLS correlate moderately to highly with other measures of subjective well-being, and correlate predictably with specific personality characteristics. It is noted that the SWLS is suited for use with different age groups, and other potential uses of the scale are discussed.
Three studies examined the effects of experimentally induced motivational orientations on the subtly different positive affects of vitality and happiness. We hypothesized, based on self-determination theory (Deci & Ryan, 1991; Ryan & Frederick, 1997), that doing well when autonomously motivated would enhance subjective vitality relative to doing well when controlled in one's motivation, but that doing well under the two motivational states would not have differential effects on happiness. Two experiments in which motivation was induced by instructions to participants about task engagement and a third experiment using an attributional methodology yielded the hypothesized pattern of effects. Results are discussed in terms of the importance of differentiating positive outcomes in terms of their underlying motives and of giving increased attention to understanding restorative environments.
Until recently, caregiving research focused almost exclusively on caregivers of older adults with health problems, and there was little focus on care recipients perceptions of the care they receive. The present article reviews relevant research on reactions to caregiving assistance. Several recent studies indicate that help in these contexts can be viewed negatively by care recipients. As many as two thirds of physically impaired older adults who receive assistance with daily activities, such as preparing meals, climbing stairs, or dressing, experience negative reactions to some of the help they receive. Negative reactions seem to have important consequences for the care recipient, because they are associated with higher depression concurrently and 1 year later. Because some of the findings are inconsistent with theoretical models of negative responses to help, an alternative framework, based on socialsupport and social-conflict research, is briefly proposed.