The broadcaster and a uni have united for The Kindness Test.
“This feels like the perfect moment to explore the topic of kindness in depth. I think a lot of us have found the pandemic has led us to think more about what really matters to us. In my view kindness is not something soft, but something that can make a real difference. With the help of our large audience, I’m looking forward to discovering what everyone thinks about it.” – Claudia Hammond, presenter of All in the Mind on Radio 4 and Visiting Professor of The Public Understanding of Psychology at the University of Sussex
BBC Radio 4 – in partnership with academic researchers at the University of Sussex – today launched The Kindness Test, a huge public science project aimed at increasing our understanding of the role that kindness plays in our lives.
Kindness is an area of research that is expanding hugely, with neuroscientists examining its impact on the brain, psychologists researching what prompts us to behave kindly – and what can prevent us from being kind – and political scientists studying its application to politics. Radio 4 have released an online questionnaire (see below) devised by psychologists at the University of Sussex to explore people’s attitudes towards kindness – and designed to gain new insights to help inform this rapidly growing field of study.
The questionnaire has been devised by a network of researchers based at the University of Sussex, and follows previous hugely successful collaborations with academics – The Touch Test, The BBC Loneliness Experiment and The Rest Test – each of which became the world’s largest-ever study conducted on those topics.
Professor Robin Banerjee, the head of the School of Psychology at the University of Sussex is the Principal Investigator on the research, and BBC Radio 4 presenter and author Claudia Hammond, who has been working closely with the department to develop the questionnaire, will launch it on The Kindness Test, a programme being broadcast on Radio 4 on Tuesday 31 August at 9am.
The pandemic has brought the topic of kindness to the fore, highlighting inspiring examples of true kindness in action, and with thousands joining community WhatsApp groups. The latest research is demonstrating that kindness can be central to success at work, in politics and in relationships.
But this study will tell us more about how kindness is viewed within society at large and will fill some of the gaps in the research, exploring issues such as ‘What are the most common kind acts people carry out?’, ‘Where do people most often experience kindness?’, ‘What are the barriers to behaving more kindly?’ and ‘How is kindness valued in the workplace?’
“Recent research has begun to shine a light on the powerful impacts of kindness on people and communities, but there is so much we still don’t know. This major survey, led by a team of researchers at the University of Sussex in partnership with the BBC, is designed to help us learn more about kindness in our lives – how people’s attitudes and experiences vary across different groups, and how kindness relates to our mental health, well-being, and other social and psychological experiences.” – Professor Robin Banerjee, Head of the School of Psychology at the University of Sussex
The public is invited to take part in the study and to respond to a range of questions linked to these topics. It will take around 30 minutes to complete, and will be available from Tuesday 31 August at www.thekindnesstest.org
The Kindness Test is the fourth in a series of questionnaires carried out in partnership between academic departments and BBC Radio 4, the first three being on the topics of Rest, Loneliness and Touch respectively. The results will be analysed and then announced on BBC Radio 4 in February 2022 and subsequently, papers will be submitted for publication in scientific journals.