Symposium 3

  • 9:30 am To 11:00 am on July 19, 2019
  • Gallery Room 1 Bramber House

Kindness in diverse relational contexts: Insights from social work, healthcare, and education

This symposium addresses kindness in professional and public contexts involving diverse relationships. The first paper considers kindness within the relationships formed between social workers and vulnerable children. The second considers the experience of doctors in training with learning difficulties, examining aspects of self-compassion as well as interpersonal relationships. The third evaluates an experimental intervention to promote adolescent well-being through acts of kindness in a school setting. The fourth examines personal attitudes and perceived social norms as predictors of intentions to be kind, with attention to experiences at university. The symposium ends with an interactive discussion of kindness in public life.

Managing difficult conversations in social work with children: the importance of kind and trusted relationships

This paper discusses findings from a recent study of the complex and challenging conversations in child protection settings which social workers have with vulnerable children about their views and experiences. Everyday encounters in real-life practice have been video-recorded and then subjected to Conversation Analysis (a form of discourse analysis). The research has revealed how important it has been for the worker to build a trusted relationship with the children through an attitude of care, kindness, sensitivity and respect, and mutual warmth, familiarity, humour and playfulness. These findings will have salience for any professional working with vulnerable or at-risk children.

Doctors with learning difficulties: otherness, compassion and team belonging

Approximately 4% of medical students in the UK declare a diagnosis of dyslexia upon starting their training. Dyslexia is the most common specific learning difficulty, characterised by difficulty in acquiring fluency and automaticity in literacy and organisational skills. An interpretative phenomenological analysis study examined experiences of 10 doctors in training. The results suggested a relationship between their experience of difficulty and difference as otherness. Their relationship with self was characterised by negativity, contributing to a distancing from team members. Self-compassion theory may offer an approach to address factors that influence professional identity formation, interpersonal team relationships and support, and resilience.

The impact of a school-based kindness intervention on adolescent well-being: The role of eudaimonia

The present study was designed to test the effect of a four-week kindness-based intervention on diverse aspects of well-being in adolescents. Results from an experimental analysis with over 600 secondary school pupils showed that those assigned to the kindness intervention, in comparison to a control condition (involving more self-focused socialising), reported higher levels of eudaimonic experience, such as self-transcendence and social connection. These in turn predicted increased subjective well-being and flourishing. The results suggest that kindness predicts increased positive affect to the extent that they elicit experiences of eudaimonia.

Cognitive, motivational, and social-contextual factors in kindness: A mixed-methods investigation

The key factors that promote or inhibit people’s intentions to perform kind acts are still not clear. Therefore, based on the theory of planned behaviour, an initial online survey of over 200 participants investigated personal attitudes, perceived social norms, and perceived behavioural control as potential predictors of intentions to be kind. The data revealed both main and interaction effects of these variables. Focus groups carried out with students and staff revealed that social connections and organisational practices are potentially influential facilitators of kind acts in a university context.