Tell me about a study that links kindness and affinity.
January 13, 2011 8:14 AM   Subscribe

We know that an abuser's contempt for his victim increases, the more he abuses her, in a vicious feedback loop. Are you aware of any studies suggesting the converse, that when I treat someone with kindness, my affinity increases, in a virtuous circle?
posted by markcmyers to Human Relations (5 answers total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Ben Franklin effect.
posted by Anatoly Pisarenko at 8:17 AM on January 13, 2011 [3 favorites]

There are studies about the power of "bearing witness" to the suffering of others, like this one. A lot of kindness is seeing and understanding the pain of another, and taking steps to alleviate it. The more one bears witness to suffering, the more involved and committed they become.
posted by Flood at 8:36 AM on January 13, 2011

Social exchange theory... Wikipedia
It's a difficult read but certainly changes people's world views... Mauss's The Gift
posted by nickrussell at 8:36 AM on January 13, 2011

Best answer: I've always like this quote by C.S. Lewis, on the Judeo-Christian notion of loving your neighbor, which I think is probably just a general observation of the Ben Franklin effect:

"Do not waste time bothering whether you 'love' your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him. If you injure someone you dislike, you will find yourself disliking him more. If you do him a good turn, you will find yourself disliking him less. There is, indeed, one exception. If you do him a good turn, not to please God and obey the law of charity, but to show him what a fine forgiving chap you are, and to put him in your debt, and then sit down to wait for his 'gratitude', you will probably be disappointed."

Additionally, classical notions of virtue, all the way back to Aristotle, have noted that internal traits or dispositions can be internalized based on the way that we act. As we treat people well, we'll learn to enjoy treating them well. The same is true with our vices.

These aren't official studies, of course, but interesting points of study.
posted by SpacemanStix at 10:06 AM on January 13, 2011 [12 favorites]

Tit for Tat
posted by wayofthedodo at 11:52 AM on January 13, 2011

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