A new study may have explained why so many ‘kindness videos’—like the one where a young man builds an elderly homeless woman a tiny mobile house, or the one where a kid superhero fights both cancer and crime with help from the police—go viral. Turns out that when we, as humans, witness a moment of generosity it creates something researchers call “moral elevation.” But how does our body react to these moments?

Researchers investigated by measuring several areas of the brain and nervous system of 104 college students while they were watching inspiring videos. Participants of the study who watched the elevation-inspiring videos experienced increases in both their parasympathetic nervous system (our calming and self-soothing system) and the sympathetic nervous system (our arousal, “fight or flight” system). Those who watched simply amusing and un-inspirational videos did not experience an increase in either system.

The study results dictate that not only are we moved by what we see, we're also moved to do something to help, the least being sharing a video for others to see and be inspired. Do you share videos that show humans being kind to one another? What are some of your favorites?



Greater Good: How Our Bodies React to Seeing Goodness