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Two children sharing a soft drink at the White House.
Placard for kindness, at the People's Climate March (2017).

Kindness is a type of behavior marked by acts of generosity, consideration, or concern for others, without expecting praise or reward.

Kindness is a topic of interest in philosophy and religion. Kindness was one of the main topics in the Bible. In Book II of "Rhetoric", Aristotle defines kindness as "helpfulness towards someone in need, not in return for anything, nor for the advantage of the helper himself, but for that of the person helped".[1] Nietzsche considered kindness and love to be the "most curative herbs and agents in human intercourse".[2] Kindness is considered to be one of the Knightly Virtues.[3] In Meher Baba's teachings, God is synonymous with kindness: "God is so kind that it is impossible to imagine His unbounded kindness!"[4]


In English, the word kindness is from approximately 1300, though the word's sense evolved to its current meanings in the late 1300s.[5]

Over time, it has acted in part of a personality trait as a long tradition of generosity through human cultures and family-friendly benefits in the concept of hospitality.

In society[edit]

In human mating choice, studies suggest that both men and women value kindness in their prospective mates, along with intelligence, physical appearance, attractiveness, social status, and age.[6][7]

Nice guy[edit]

A "nice guy" is an informal and usually stereotypical term for an (often young) adult male who portrays himself as gentle, compassionate, sensitive, and/or vulnerable.[8] The term is used both positively and negatively.[9] When used positively, and particularly when used as a preference or description by someone else, it is intended to imply a male who puts the needs of others before his own, avoids confrontations, does favors, gives emotional support, tries to stay out of trouble, and generally acts nicely towards others.[10] In the context of a relationship, it may also refer to traits of honesty, loyalty, romanticism, courtesy, and respect. When used negatively, a nice guy implies a male who is unassertive, does not express his true feelings and, in the context of dating (in which the term is often used[8]), uses acts of ostensible friendship with the unstated aim of progressing to a romantic or sexual relationship.[11][12]

In psychology[edit]

Based on experiments at Yale University using games with babies, some studies concluded that kindness is inherent to human beings.[13] There are similar studies about the root of empathy in infancy[14] – motor mirroring developing in the early months of life,[15] to lead (optimally) to the concern shown by children for their peers in distress.[16]

Barbara Taylor and Adam Phillips have stressed the element of necessary realism in adult kindness, as well as the way "real kindness changes people in the doing of it, often in unpredictable ways".[17]

2018 Women's March in Missoula, Montana

In literature[edit]

In media[edit]

The motion picture Pay it Forward, based on the novel of the same name written in 1999 by the founder Catherine Ryan Hyde, which starred Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt, Haley Joel Osment and Jon Bon Jovi, illustrates the power one person can have to make an impact on a chain reaction of kind deeds. The philosophy of Pay It Forward is that through acts of kindness among strangers, we all foster a more caring society. In the book and film, Reuben St. Clair, a social studies teacher in Atascadero, California, challenges his students to "change the world". One of his students, Trevor, takes the challenge to heart. He starts by showing kindness to a stranger which ripples further than he could have ever imagined.

In October 2011, Life Vest Inside posted a video called "Kindness Boomerang".[25] It shows how one act of kindness passes seamlessly from one person to the next and boomerangs back to the person who set it into motion. Orly Wahba, Life Vest Inside Founder and Director of Kindness Boomerang explains that each scene was based on real-life experiences she personally went through; moments of kindness that left a lasting impression on her life. Within several months after its release, Kindness Boomerang went viral; reaching over 20 million people globally and eventually invadingWahba spot on TED2013[26] stage to speak about the power of kindness.

Singer-songwriter Harry Styles has been promoting kindness since at least 2017 with his slogan 'Treat People with Kindness', also abbreviated to 'TPWK'.[27]

Kindness Awareness March

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Aristotle (translated by Lee Honeycutt). "Kindness". Rhetoric, book 2, chapter 7. Archived from the original on December 13, 2004. Retrieved 2005-11-22.
  2. ^ Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. "On the History of Moral Feelings," Human, all too human: a book for free spirits. Aphorism 48. [Original: Menschliches, Allzumenschiles, 1878.] Trans. Marion Faber with Stephen Lehman. University of Nebraska Press: First Printing, Bison Books, 1996.
  3. ^ "The Manual of Life - Character". Parvesh singla – via Google Books.
  4. ^ Kalchuri, Bhau (1986). Meher Prabhu: Lord Meher, 11, Myrtle Beach: Manifestation, Inc., p. 3918.
  5. ^ "Kindness | Etymology, origin and meaning of kindness by etymonline".
  6. ^ Buss, David M., et al. "Sex differences in jealousy: Evolution, physiology, and psychology." Psychological science 3.4 (1992): 251-255
  7. ^ Gleitman, Henry; Gross, James; Reisberg, Daniel. Psychology (8th ed.).
  8. ^ a b McDaniel, A. K. (2005). "Young Women's Dating Behavior: Why/Why Not Date a Nice Guy?". Sex Roles. 53 (5–6): 347–359. doi:10.1007/s11199-005-6758-z. S2CID 51946327.
  9. ^ divalion (12 July 2005). "No More Mr. Nice Guy". Archived from the original on 17 January 2013.
  10. ^ Glover, Dr. Robert,
  11. ^ Blomquist, Daniel (2 April 2014). "When nice guys are sexist with a smile". Berkeley Beacon. Archived from the original on 20 March 2015. Retrieved 9 December 2014.
  12. ^ Dasgupta, Rivu. "The Friend Zone is Sexist". The Maneater. Retrieved 1 November 2014.
  13. ^ Can Babies Tell Right From Wrong?, Babies at Yale University's Infant Cognition Center respond to "naughty" and "nice" puppets., May 5, 2010
  14. ^ Researchers Trace Empathy's Roots to Infancy, Daniel Goleman, 1989
  15. ^ D Goleman, Emotional Intelligence (London 1996) p. 98-9
  16. ^ A Phillips/B Taylor, On Kindness (London 2009) p. 112
  17. ^ A Phillips/B Taylor, On Kindness (London 2009) p. 96 and p. 12
  18. ^ TirukkuṛaḷArchived 2014-12-16 at the Wayback Machine verses 71-80
  19. ^ Pope, George Uglow (1886). The Sacred Kurral of Tiruvalluva Nayanar (PDF) (First ed.). New Delhi: Asian Educational Services. ISBN 8120600223.
  20. ^ Lorette M. Enochs (21 November 2016). Seeds of Recovery: A Journal of 101 Mental Health Reflections. AuthorHouse. p. 76. ISBN 978-1-5246-5181-7.
  21. ^ Lagrette Tallent Lenker, Fathers and Daughters in Shakespeare and Shaw (2001) p. 107
  22. ^ robert Louis Stevenson, Virginibus Puerisque (London 1909) p. 35
  23. ^ Galatians 5:22, New International Version
  24. ^ 1 Corinthians 13:4, New International Version
  25. ^ "Kindness Boomerang". YouTube/Life Vest Inside. Retrieved 14 January 2016.
  26. ^ "TED Talk - Kindness - Orly Wahba", YouTube/TED Conferences. Retrieved January 14, 2016.
  27. ^ "'Small changes make a big difference': Harry Styles tells the story of Treat People with Kindness".

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]