07 April 2011

hearing about kindness begets more kindness

It isn't that surprising that hearing about good deeds makes you want to commit good deeds, too, but recent research from the University of British Columbia suggests that the media could actually impact more positive change by simply focusing less on celebrities' scandalous behavior and more on everyday individuals who give something of themselves to others.
"Our study indicates that if more attention was devoted to recounting stories of uncommon acts of human virtue, the media could have a quantifiable positive effect on the moral behaviour of a significant group of people," said Aquino, a professor at the Sauder School of Business at UBC.
But good news alone wouldn't suffice-- to really create that yearning to do something good, people have to read about really extraordinary deeds.

"These things have to be beyond just everyday goodness," Aquino said in an interview. "We help our neighbours all the time, we volunteer for things — we're talking here about really exceptional acts of virtue... Acts that require enormous sacrifice, that put people at risk for the sake of others."
So, here's an example of a good deed.  You can see if you feel inclined to donate to charity (the variable measured in the Canadian studies) or do something to help someone else.

Ten-year-old Cliff Forrest googled former NFL player, William "Refrigerator" Perry, and discovered that he'd had to sell his Super Bowl XX ring because he'd had health problems and had fallen on tough times.  

So, unlike most ten-year-old kids, Forrest decided to take $8500 out of his college fund and buy the ring and give it back to Perry.

Forrest said that it just seemed like the right thing to do.  "He only played in one Super Bowl.  I thought he would want it more than I did."

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