Understanding the effect of kindness on adolescent givers’ well-being

Cotney, Jessica Louise (2019) Understanding the effect of kindness on adolescent givers’ well-being. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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There is growing evidence, mainly from research with adult populations, that being kind predicts increased well-being for the giver. Adolescence is a sensitive period for the development of relevant systems such as moral reasoning and perspective-taking skills. Furthermore, adolescents are at high risk for the onset of mental health problems as well as declining well-being. Thus, kindness-based interventions may be a useful method to promote well-being in this age group. However, there is little understanding of kindness among adolescent populations, and very few experimental investigations have tested the impact of kindness on adolescent well-being. This thesis includes three papers designed to identify adolescents’ conceptualisations of kindness, the impact of kindness on adolescent well-being, and the mechanisms that may explain how, why, and when kindness is most effective. Participants were aged 11 to 15 years in all papers.

The first paper reports on a qualitative study designed to document and understand adolescents’ conceptualisations of kindness. The paper identified a range of behavioural and psychological manifestations of kindness. Papers 2 and 3 used randomised, experimental methods to test the impact of kindness on well-being. For Paper 2, this consisted of a single kindness-based reflective writing task, whereas Paper 3 reports the findings from a four-week kindness-based intervention. Analyses for both studies revealed no significant overall effects of the kindness tasks on well-being.However, in each case, a positive indirect effect of kindness on subjective well-being via eudaimonia was observed. Paper 3 also identified a positive indirect effect of the intervention on general levels of kindness and flourishing.

Together, the findings demonstrate that kindness is a multidimensional construct, consisting of both behavioural manifestations and specific other-focussed motivations. Furthermore, the findings highlight the challenges of designing kindnessbased interventions to raise well-being in adolescents and suggest the importance of eudaimonic experience in fostering a positive impact of kindness on adolescent givers. This has important theoretical implications for future research and practical implications for the way in which kindness-based initiatives are designed and implemented.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology > BF0511 Affection. Feeling. Emotion > BF0531 Emotion > BF0575 Special forms of emotion, etc., A-Z > BF0575.E55 Empathy
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics > BJ1518 Individual ethics. Character. Virtue Including practical and applied ethics, conduct of life, vices, success, ethics for children > BJ1533.A-Z Special virtues, A-Z > BJ1533.K5 Kindness
H Social Sciences > HQ The Family. Marriage. Women > HQ0503 The Family. Marriage. Home > HQ0793 Youth. Adolescents. Teenagers
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 19 Dec 2019 10:41
Last Modified: 19 Jan 2022 08:34
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/88202

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