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The Unexpected Role Of Kindness

Kindness, we know, is important. It drives social relationships. It helps identify reciprocity. It eases anxiety. It builds trust. And, it might also be the glue that bonds long-term relationships.

Recruiting over 2,700 college students from across the globe, researchers from Swansea University asked them to do something unique – they were given a fixed budget with which to build the perfect partner. They were given eight attributes they could spend money on: physical attractiveness, good financial prospects, kindness, humor, chastity, religiosity, the desire for children, and creativity.

While the study compared the dating preferences of students from Eastern countries, for example Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong, and Western countries such as the UK, Norway and Australia, and there were interesting similarities, the one most remarkable finding was that the characteristic that was given the highest priority was kindness (Thomas et. al., 2019).

Specifically, students spent 22-26% of their total budget on kindness. By comparing mate preferences across cultures, says the lead researcher, Dr Andrew G. Thomas, we can draw some important conclusions about the universality of human behavior.

He explains, “If men and women act in a similar way across the globe, then this adds weight to the idea that some behaviors develop in spite of culture rather than because of it.”

Kindness is a characteristic that we all recognize and value regardless of our race, culture, gender, or social experiences. And importantly, it is also something that appears to inspire, and drive our long-term relationships.

The takeaway might just be that while we might not be endowed with the physical attributes that we wish we were, we are all capable of kindness. And, even better, it doesn’t cost a thing.

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