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April 07, 2020 Tuesday 03:07:33 PM IST

Does Kindness Come Out of us Only in Crisis Times?

Image by bknis for

It is often said that crisis situations such as natural calamities, accidents or epidemics bring out the best in people.  People volunteering to help the elderly and sick, those tending to street animals, kids donating pocket money to friends in need, or food and water delivered to policemen on the streets. But we have also seen the worst out of people in the past few weeks as people began to buy up groceries, toilet papers and face masks much more than needed any point of time.
Does kindness come to people only in crisis times?
Prof Amanda Barnier from Macquarie University's Department of Cognitive Science believes that people are kind most of the time. 
"But perhaps when things are ‘normal’, our acts of kindness are unconscious – we take them for granted. When things slide out of normality, as they have recently, we not only pay more attention to these random acts of kindness, but also do them more often."
In crisis situations, we often go out of control as our ability to grasp meaning from whatever information we have gets lost. In normal times, we make mental short cuts or 'heuristics' to solve problems and make judgements. In crisis situations such as Covid 19 there are no mental short cuts to take which causes anxiety which is caused by our sense of lack of control. We regain control by helping others and that gives us meaning. 
'Being kind shows us that not everything is uncertain',says Barnier.Even in normal situations, social isolation is bad for us. 
During uncertainties, we look towards peers or make-up free, fellow-isolating versions of celebrities. Kindness to peers and friends can be contagious during chaos and keep our life from going out of control, according to Barnier.