Positive Psychology Experiment Brought Smiles to the Streets of Prague

During their recent study visit to Prague, Dr Salman Ahmad, positive psychology professor from the Danish Institute for Study Abroad, brought a group of 24 American students together with 12 UNYP students of the Psychology Club for an experiment in positive psychology.  

Teams of students were given 300 Czech crowns and sent out to perform “random acts of kindness” to total strangers on the streets of Prague.  Teams found many ways to brighten the days of people they met, for example giving out flowers, free cookies or paying for people’s coffee in a café.  Afterwards we had an interesting discussion, and although students were skeptical at first, they found the response to be overwhelmingly positive as predicted.  Not only did they brighten the day of the people who received free gifts, but also brought smiles to the faces of the shopkeepers and waitresses who they enlisted to help them do the good deeds.  One man even ran to the shop to buy them traditional Czech cookies in return for their kindness.  The experiment showed that doing nice things for others brings positive feelings on all sides and demonstrated the principle of positive psychology that one of the easiest ways to feel happy is to do something good for someone else.  Afterwards the Institute sponsored a wonderful Czech dinner for everyone to relax and talk about the day, and it was such a success we plan to continue to work together to spread happiness in Prague every semester during their visit.

 

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