Eeske van Roekel

Being kind brings you in a good mood

Published: 13th February 2023 Last updated: 21st February 2023

Are you extra kind to others on Random Acts of Kindness Day? Then you are more likely to feel happy throughout the day. This is because being kind has a positive effect on your emotions and your well-being. "This effect applies to everyone and it’s achieved by small things," says associate professor of developmental psychology Eeske van Roekel. "Holding a door open, helping a fellow student with studying or greeting people on the street. These small acts of kindness feel good and inspire others to do something nice in return."

Eeske van Roekel conducts research in the areas of positive psychology and emotions in everyday life, mental health and well-being: "A meta-analysis of multiple studies on 'acts of kindness', shows that being kind leads to greater well-being, more positive emotions and fewer negative emotions. This includes studies where they instructed participants to do this more often, so it doesn't just work for people who are already naturally kind." 

How does this work?

"There are several reasons why people perform acts of kindness and why it has positive effects. From evolutionary theories, belonging to a social group was necessary for survival. Being kind to your family, as well as to broader social groups, could increase your chances of survival. In addition, being nice can make another person more inclined to do something nice in return, which in turn benefits you. In that sense, it works just like basic needs like eating or sex: you feel better or happier after doing so because it fulfills a purpose that increases your chances of survival." 

When is a kind action meaningful to yourself?

"Keep the actions close to yourself. Don't start doing things that you find very uncomfortable or that don't come across as sincere. Than you are good to go. We also hear back from research participants that they find that others around them also respond positively to these actions, thus creating a positive vicious cycle. Research also shows that recipients of kind actions also show more prosocial behavior themselves in response.”

Eeske van Roekel - portretfoto - Erik van der Burgt

Do you have to go big?

"No you don't. Research shows that small acts of kindness such as smiling at someone or greeting someone can already have positive effects."