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Acts of kindness in close relationships reduce depression

Acts of kindness in close relationships reduce depression

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Title: Acts of kindness in close relationships reduce depression
Author: Barnes, Caroline
Abstract: This study investigated the benefits of performing kind acts within close relationships. Practicing kindness has been shown to strengthen relationships and increase social support. It was expected to be particularly relevant for needy people who are driven by a need for closeness and are vulnerable to depression in the face of interpersonal stress. It was hypothesized that a short term, online kindness exercise would decrease depression and increase happiness in a community sample (at baseline N = 364), and would be particularly beneficial for individuals high on neediness. Participants were recruited online and randomly assigned to one of two conditions. Participants in the kindness condition performed a kind, loving gesture towards someone close and described the ensuing interaction; while participants in the control condition simply wrote about an interaction they had with someone close. Each exercise was repeated every second day for roughly three weeks. The kindness exercise was associated with significant decreases in depressive symptoms when compared to the control condition, and these decreases were maintained up to the two-month follow-up for the general sample. The findings for happiness were mixed and participants high on neediness did not show superior benefits over participants low on neediness from the kindness intervention. The results suggest that practicing kindness within the context of a close relationship can lead to general and sustained improvements in depression. Furthermore, this study offers support for the efficacy of brief, online interventions in the improvement of depressive symptoms.
Subject: Depression
Keywords: Close relationship
Type: Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Rights: Author owns copyright, except where explicitly noted. Please contact the author directly with licensing requests.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10315/31469
Degree: MA - Master of Arts
Program: Psychology (Functional Area: Clinical Psychology)
Exam date: 2012-11
Publish on: 2016-06-23

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