Acts of kindness reduce depression in individuals low on agreeableness.

Low Agreeableness is a personality dimension involving hostility, antagonistic behaviors, and the propensity for conflict. Within the repertoire of positive psychology interventions, the practice of compassion may be a particularly redemptive for these individuals given their deficits in this domain. Helping has previously been found to boosts momentary positive affect in nonaltruists (Conway, Rogelberg, & Pitts, 2009). Consequently, we hypothesized that individuals low on trait Agreeableness would report greater benefits from compassion interventions, including reductions in depression and increases in life satisfaction. Two compassion exercises were investigated: (a) a loving-kindness meditation (LKM) exercise, and (b) an acts of kindness exercise. These were compared with a control condition involving the journaling of interpersonal relationships. Participants were drawn from an international sample (N = 648) and were randomly assigned to one of the 3 conditions. All groups completed their exercise online every other day for 3 weeks. Trait Agreeableness was assessed at baseline with the Big Five Inventory (John & Srivastava, 1999). Measures of depression and life satisfaction were administered at baseline, at posttest, and 1 and 2 months later at follow-up assessments. Findings showed that participants in both experimental conditions (LKM and Acts of Kindness) reported significant reductions in depression at posttest compared with those in the control condition. Personality also interacted with exercise condition such that those low on Agreeableness doing acts of kindness reported the greatest reductions in depression, and increases in life satisfaction at 2 months, compared with those in the LKM and control conditions. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)