TUCSON, Ariz. -- Driving around town, you may notice cars with a flower-shaped sticker with the words "Be Kind." Those decals are part of the non-profit, Ben's Bells' , effort to promote kindness in the community.
Now its founder has decided to take a deeper look at kindness through research at the University of Arizona.
Jeannette Maré says kindness is what helped her heal after her 3-year-old son died unexpectedly in 2002. That is when she started the non-profit.
During that time, she found people inted to be kind. Now, she wants to know how to best teach people the skills they need to practice kindness, especially during difficult conversations. "In my generation, you were taught not to talk about things like race, religion, politics or grief, but if we don’t learn how to talk about these things, how can we expect to solve any of these problems?" Maré said. "I'm looking into what it takes to get people into the frame of mind that they need to be in to learn how to have these difficult conversations."
"One thing that I've also learned is that there's a difference between intention and actual outcome. Actual impact. And that when we offer kindness to somebody, we actually need to have a skill set in order for that kindness to be received as kindness," says Maré.
Her work will be advised by communication professor Kory Floyd, whose research focuses on the communication of affection. "A consistent finding in my research is that people profit both by receiving affection from others and also by giving it," Floyd said. "By encouraging kindness, Jeannette's work benefits not only the recipients of that kindness, but also those who provide it."
Maré says she chose to do her research with the School of Communication because that's how people enact kindness. Since starting Ben's Bells, she says they've worked to raise awareness about being kind and understand that it is a skill set.