Preteens (nine to 12 year olds) who perform kind acts are happier and more popular according to research published December 26, 2012, in the open access journal Public Library of Science by Kristin Layous and colleagues from the University of California, Riverside.
The authors randomly assigned over 400 students aged 9-12 to two groups: one group performed 'acts of kindness' and the other kept track of pleasant places they visited each week. Examples of kind acts included descriptions like "gave someone some of my lunch" or "gave my mom a hug when she was stressed by her job," and places visited included the baseball diamond, shopping center or a grandparent's house.
After a four week test period the children that performed kind acts self reported higher levels of happiness than the group that other kept track of pleasant places they visited each week.
Popularity was determined by a paper selection of the people other would like to work with for school activities. The acts of kindness group were selected most frequently by their peers.
According to the authors “The findings suggest that a simple and relatively brief prosocial activity can increase liking among classmates. Given the relationship between peer acceptance and many social and academic outcomes, we think these findings have important implications for the classroom."
Kristin Layous 1*, S. Katherine Nelson 1, Eva Oberle 2, Kimberly A. Schonert-Reichl 2, Sonja Lyubomirsky 1
1 Department of Psychology, University of California, Riverside, California, United States of America, 2 Department of Educational and Counseling Psychology and Special
Education, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada