Intentional acts of kindness

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Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation is promoting intentional acts of kindness this September (#BeKind21) with a goal toward better mental health for everyone. Every day, from September 1 to September 21, let’s engage in purposeful acts of kindness to others and ourselves. I encourage you and your students to sign up.  

Zara Abrams (2021) provides a nice summary of the research on kindness, emphasizing its benefits to both our physical and mental health. Even small acts, such as bringing a colleague coffee, counts. Buying me a beer also counts.

Without too much difficulty, we can tie acts of kindness into what students are learning in their Intro Psych course. Here are a few examples.

Biopsych chapter: Which neurotransmitters are most likely to be released in our brains when we do good deeds for others? Explain

Development chapter: What are developmentally-appropriate good deeds we could perform for each group: toddlers, middle-schoolers, high-schoolers, middle-aged adults, older adults? Explain.

Learning chapter: Identify at least three acts of kindness you have engaged in. Was your act positively reinforced? Explain.

Memory chapter: We tend to have stronger memories for events that are emotional. Based on the emotional reaction of those who were on the receiving end of your kindness, will any of your acts of kindness be remembered years from now by one of your recipients?

After September 21st, give your students an opportunity to reflect on their experience. What was especially good about engaging in intentional acts of kindness? Were there any surprises? Will they continue to be intentionally kind?



Abrams, Z. (2021, August). The case for kindness. American Psychological Association.

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About the Author
Sue Frantz has taught psychology since 1992. She has served on several APA boards and committees, and was proud to serve the members of the Society for the Teaching of Psychology as their 2018 president. In 2013, she was the inaugural recipient of the APA award for Excellence in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning at a Two-Year College or Campus. She received in 2016 the highest award for the teaching of psychology--the Charles L. Brewer Distinguished Teaching of Psychology Award. She presents nationally and internationally on the topics of educational technology and the pedagogy of psychology. She is co-author with Doug Bernstein and Steve Chew of Teaching Psychology: A Step-by-Step Guide, 3rd ed. and is co-author with Charles Stangor on Introduction to Psychology, 4.0.