Forget mean girls: study says nice kids are more popular

A new study finds that among kids aged nine to 11, those who perform kind acts may be more popular among their peer groups.

Researchers from the University of British Columbia and the University of California, Riverside, randomly assigned more than 400 students to two groups. One group performed three "acts of kindness," such as carrying groceries or giving a classmate part of their lunch, each week for four weeks. Kids in the second, control group were asked to visit three places, such as a baseball field or their grandparents' house, each week during the course of the experiment. Both groups were asked to report on their actions.

After the four weeks kids were asked to report on their happiness levels, with children in both groups showing a mood boost. Then, when assessing how much the kids were liked by their peer groups, researchers gave students a list of classmates and asked them to circle the ones they wanted to work with on a project. The kids who'd performed kind acts fared better.

The findings were published in the open access journal PLOS ONE on December 26.

A separate study published this June in PLOS ONE found that toddlers under the age of two are happier when giving treats to others than receiving treats themselves. Furthermore, children are happier when they give their own treats away than when they give an identical treat that doesn't belong to them.

Access the new study: http://www.plosone.org/article/authors/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0051380;jsessionid=DAE78F9FDD8A59E7E3C19565D1C2CBF2

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