Small and simple, kind gestures have immense, underestimated power.
- Why it matters: When it comes to doing nice things for others, a little goes a long way. That should encourage all of us to put in that bit of extra effort to make someone smile.
🖼️ The big picture: Researchers demonstrated the power of small acts of kindness in a new study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology.
- The researchers conducted a series of experiments with different acts of kindness — such as offering someone a ride home or covering the cost of someone’s cup of coffee.
- In one experiment, study participants at an ice skating rink in Chicago on a cold winter day gave other skaters hot chocolate for free. Then both parties were asked to rate how much the gesture was worth.
- The givers consistently undervalued how much the hot cocoa meant to the recipients.
⚡Flashback: Another recent paper, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, came to a similar conclusion about human behavior and showed that we underestimate the power of reaching out to friends, family and colleagues.
- A quick call or text makes a big difference, the authors wrote.
🧠 Between the lines: That we routinely misjudge the impact of our actions matters for our behavior, Amit Kumar, a psychology professor at UT Austin and one of the authors of the Journal of Experimental Psychology study, told the New York Times.
“Not knowing one’s positive impact can stand in the way of people engaging in these sorts of acts of kindness in daily life.”