The University of Sussex has made history by launching the first research centre in the UK dedicated to studying kindness. The Sussex Centre for Research on Kindness brings together experts from a variety of fields, including psychology, business, education, social work, medical practice, and media. The Centre will investigate the impact of kindness on individuals and communities and plans to deliver academic and public talks on kindness as an essential component of human wellbeing.
The Centre builds on existing research into kindness at the University, including The Kindness Test project, which explores how people’s attitudes and experiences of kindness vary across different groups and how kindness relates to health, well-being, and other social and psychological experiences. The Centre is also home to the UK’s first university course on the Psychology of Kindness and Wellbeing at Work, an online Post-Graduate Certificate course developed by academics from the School of Psychology and Business School.
The Centre received funding for three years from the Pears Foundation and plans to collaborate with organisations and local communities to share its cutting-edge research to make the world a little kinder. The launch event was hosted by BBC broadcaster Claudia Hammond and featured panellists from the University of Sussex School of Media, Arts and Humanities, Business School, and School of Law, Politics and Sociology.
Professor Sasha Roseneil, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sussex, said the launch of the UK’s first research centre focused on the study of kindness was timely after the upheavals and disruptions to everyday life experienced around the world during the pandemic. She added that kindness might be the key to connecting people to tackle pressing societal challenges.
Dr Gillian Sandstrom, Senior Lecturer in the Psychology of Kindness and Director of the Sussex Centre for Research on Kindness, said the Centre would actively look for ways to collaborate with organisations and local communities to share its cutting-edge research with the aim of helping people make the world a little kinder. She added that the launch of the Centre was particularly significant for her, as someone whose academic research focuses on the importance of talking to strangers.
The University of Sussex’s notable previous research into kindness includes studies into the neuroscience of charitable giving, the factors that influence individuals’ intentions to be kind, the connection between kind behaviours in adolescents and their wellbeing, and the potential effects of seeing kindness in engagement with social media.