The Role of Positive Social Interactions in Improving Wellbeing: a Randomised Controlled Pilot Trial.
B. O Connell1, D. O Shea1, S. Gallagher1
1University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland
Background: Positive psychology activities (PPAs) have empirically shown to increase wellbeing. However, the role of positive social relationships is yet to be examined in this research. This study aimed to test whether kindness and gratitude PPAs enhance existing social relationships. Methods: Using a mixed repeated measures design, 212 participants were randomised to one of four intervention conditions (or control) and completed measures of social support and wellbeing at three time points (baseline, post intervention and one month). The experimental conditions involved positive interactions with others whereas the control did not. Findings: As evidenced by a significant interaction, those who completed kindness or gratitude PPAs to people in their social network had greater increases in relationship satisfaction than the control group post intervention. Further, only those in the experimental conditions felt their existing relationships had improved at trial cessation. Discussion: PPAs significantly enhanced social relationships. Given its integral relationship to health and wellbeing, health researchers are advised to value the role of social relationships in the PPA framework.