This is a 10-tweet relay story that @FloorKist_SciFi and I wrote.
There is a sad joke about a man who visits the doctor. He says he’s terribly sad. The doctor suggests he go to the circus: ‘”Mancini the Clown is the funniest guy ever. He’s sure to brighten your day!” The sad man looks at the doctor and replies: “I am Mancini the Clown.”
For Marisa, this was the reason to start her research on ‘kindness’. Why are people kind? Does kindness matter? And why does it matter?
She already wrote a paper on the ‘negativity bias’ that makes people remember negative events and feelings more acutely than positive ones.
This leads to a ‘kindness gap’ where people underestimate how much others enjoy our company.
In her study she already discovered that participants consistently misjudge how much their conversation partners liked them. Surveys after each chat, long or short, showed this gap.
Once she showed the participants her results, they were astonished.
A paper found that being kind to others also improves our own well-being. So, why don’t we act in ways that make us feel better? Apparently, people don’t often recognize the power of those acts on others.
Instead, people tend to focus on the value of the thing they’re giving, say a cup of coffee.
Where at Christmas, “It’s the thought that counts” means you didn’t like the present, in kindness it truly is the act itself that matters: a thank-you mail or a compliment on shoes.
Another example Marisa found is power of the surprise. When checking in with a friend with a text, for example, the recipients are happy someone is thinking about them. The reason people hesitate sending them is because they don’t want to impose or create an obligation.
Then again no one criticizes a kind text they weren’t expecting. Marisa’s research has already helped her be less self-conscious. She’s stopped assuming people won’t accept her. Instead, she now accepts others more readily, and notices that works both ways. No surprise there!
In the movie “A Fish Called Wanda” the main character explains what it’s like to be English: “Being so correct all the time? Being so stifled by this dread of doing the wrong thing?”
Don’t let negativity bias stop you showing you care for others with small, kind gestures.
Thanks for reading!