Good deeds make a difference, scientists say!

In this world that sometimes seems so competitive, does your character make a difference? The “nice guys” (or gals) sometimes wonder whether being kind to people has any effect on wider society.

Prof James Fowler and his team from the University of California have discovered from observing participants in a game that they had devised that someone on the receiving end of an act of kindness went on to show similar goodwill to three other players, on average. So “This creates a domino effect in which one peson's generosity spreads.”

On the downside, selfish behavour was seen to spread in the same way! However this does show that behaviour is influential, and character (which is about repeated patterns of behaviour) is important. From a coaching point of view this shows the importance in a group or organisation of the behaviour of leaders, and how it is important to make issues of character, or personality, central in executive coaching. Of course, what we call “character” in an individual becomes “culture” in a group, and this study shows something of the way culture can be formed and influenced.

This reminds me of a quote by Mother Teresa of Calcutta: “We cannot all do great things, but we can do small things with great love.”

Follow links for more detail: popularist Daily Telegraph; technical: Red Orbit.

(First noticed by me in The Week 20th March 2010.)

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