Kindness in Short Supply: Evidence for Inadequate Prosocial Input

The social context we live in, has some complex, but important characteristics, and our well-being depends on the feedback we get.
In the article Kindness in short supply: Evidence for inadequate prosocial input by Jennifer E.Abel, Preeti Vani, Nicole Abi-Esber, Hayley Blunden, Juliana Schroeder, the importance of kind feedback support is expressed. In summary:

In everyday life, people often have opportunities to improve others’ lives, whether offering well-intentioned advice or complimenting someone on a job well done. These are opportunities to provide “prosocial input” (information intended to benefit others), including feedback, advice, compliments, and expressions of gratitude. Despite widespread evidence that giving prosocial input can improve the well-being of both givers and recipients, people sometimes hesitate to offer their input. The current paper documents when and why people fail to give prosocial input, noting that potential givers overestimate the costs of doing so (e.g., making recipients uncomfortable) and underestimate the benefits (e.g., being helpful) for at least four psychological reasons. Unfortunately, the reluctance to give prosocial input results in a short supply of kindness.

Demonstrating the overestimation of costs, feedback givers overestimate how uncomfortable and hurt recipients will feel upon receiving constructive and critical feedback, and how much giving it will damage their relationship with recipients. Additionally, people overestimate how awkward and uncomfortable others will feel upon receiving a compliment or an expression of gratitude.

There are at least four broad reasons why people tend to mispredict recipients’ reactions to their input.
Egocentric projection (project their own thoughts and experiences onto their predictions of others’ experiences)
Focusing error (fail to recognize which elements of an interaction will inform recipients’ appreciation and assessments of givers)
Motivated cognition (own preferences and goals prevent them from forming accurate assessments of others’ mental states)
Legitimacy (doubt the legitimacy to give prosocial input, thinking it is socially inappropriate to give it)

Whether giving feedback, offering advice, or expressing thanks, providing prosocial input creates psychological and practical benefits for both receivers and givers. Yet to potential givers, these benefits appear to be not as apparent, or do not outweigh their corresponding costs.
Thus, prosocial input is given not just sparingly, … but inadequately.
With kindness in short supply, people would do well to realize that providing prosocial input will likely lead to greater positive impact than they expect.

Needles to say that these insights might help all of us create an environment of “Psychological Safety” and help us practicing the “Radical Candor”

Radical Candor – A managing technique (and more)

One response to “Kindness in Short Supply: Evidence for Inadequate Prosocial Input”

  1. […] Ook in onze eigen individuele gedachten en beslissingen zijn deze “valse opdelingen” ook aanwezig. De  beste adviezen om inzichten samen te brengen blijven: ga even wandelen, of slaap er eens over. Dit is ook van toepassing ook voor sociale interacties, en hoe deze de oude structuren kunnen overwinnen. […]


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