This theme focuses on qualitative and quantitative evaluations of specific strategies that are designed to promote kindness within individuals, organisations, and communities.
Kindness and Well-being in Adolescence
The main goal of this project, led by Doctoral Researcher Jess Cotney and supervised by Prof. Robin Banerjee, is to evaluate how and to what extent being kind is associated with wellbeing in adolescents, and whether fostering kindness can serve to enhance wellbeing in this age group. For adults, emerging literature provides evidence that those who engage with giving, helping or caring experience higher levels of wellbeing, and that kindness-based interventions increase positive emotion and life satisfaction. However, these links have yet to be addressed within adolescent populations and little is known about how and why these links exist.
The project, conducted within the CRESS Lab, combines qualitative focus groups with experimental studies to test the relationship between kindness and positive outcomes. The findings show that adolescents have a multifaceted understanding of kindness, with both motivational and behavioural components. We have also found that kindness-based tasks have a positive impact on wellbeing outcomes, although these effects were only apparent under specific conditions. The results of this work are helping us to understand the way in which positive social behaviour improves the lives of young people. They also inform the design and evaluation of wellbeing interventions in schools.
You can hear Jess talk a little more about one of the studies by listening to the Relationship Matters Podcast.
Cotney, J. L., and Banerjee, R. (2019). Adolescents’ conceptualisations of kindness and its links with well-being: A focus group study. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 36(2), 599-617. https://doi.org/10.1177/0265407517738584
Kindness within Public Services
One study will be addressing these questions via qualitative methods, to examine the personal experiences and perspective of both practitioners and service users. The research team will be conducting one-to-one interviews across social work, education, and healthcare services. The data collection is still underway, but the project aims to identify whether there are commonalities across these different public services. The study should inform the development of larger-scale studies designed to investigate, promote, and illuminate kindness within public life. To find out more about this study, email J.Cotney@sussex.ac.uk
This project, led by Dr Charlotte Ramage, involved the development of the Cultivating Compassion Toolkit, a teaching activity toolkit designed to cultivate compassionate discourses in healthcare practice. This toolkit provides a range of evidence-based tools and resources for individuals and groups in the areas of self-compassion, team-compassion, patient-compassion, and organisational-compassion. This project also explored how noticing acts of compassion influenced undergraduate students whilst on placement, considering its effect on the students’ ideas about their profession, their identity and their own expression of compassionate behaviour.
This project was conducted by the University of Brighton, the Brighton and Sussex Medical School and the University of Surrey, in collaboration with four partnership healthcare organisations across Kent, Surrey and Sussex.
Cathie, V., Whan, K., Montgomery, J., Martin, C., & Ramage, C. (2017). Can compassion be taught? A medical students’ compassion discourse. MedEdPublish. https://doi.org/10.15694/mep.2017.000093
Ramage, C., Curtis, K., Glynn, A., Montgomery, J., Hoover, E., Leng, J., Martin, C., Theodosius, C., & Gallagher, A. (2017). Developing and using a toolkit for cultivating compassion in healthcare: an appreciative inquiry approach. International Journal of Practice-based Learning in Health and Social Care, 5(1), 42-64. DOI: 10.18552/ijpblhsc.v5i1.392