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Title: Understanding the effect of kindness on adolescent givers' well-being
Author: Cotney, Jessica Louise
ISNI:       0000 0004 8503 3185
Awarding Body: University of Sussex
Current Institution: University of Sussex
Date of Award: 2019
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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.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: BF0575.E55 Empathy ; BJ1533.K5 Kindness ; HQ0793 Youth. Adolescents. Teenagers