What Happens When Strangers Start Their Day By Giving Each Other Compliments? We Decided To Find Out.

"I'm ready to just spread love all day."


A Plus took over a coffee shop in Brooklyn and set the stage for a social experiment. We wanted to see what could happen when strangers were encouraged to pass on the positivity by paying compliments to others. The answer? More than enough goodness to get everyone through the day. Watch the video above to see it all play out.

As it turns out, you can literally spread happiness. But don't just take our word for it: We've got the social and science experiments to prove it. 

In a 2008 study published in the BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal) of nearly 5,000 people over 20 years, researchers found that "people who are surrounded by many happy people... are more likely to become happy in the future." Data from longitudinal statistical models showed that "clusters of happiness" actually resulted from the spread of happiness, not just a tendency for happy people to associate with only similarly happy people. According to this study, "emotional states can be transferred directly from one individual to another by mimicry and 'emotional contagion,' perhaps by the copying of emotionally relevant bodily actions, particularly facial expressions, seen in others. People can 'catch' emotional states they observe in others over time frames ranging from seconds to weeks." 

Not only is happiness contagious, but this epidemic actually has a whole host of health benefits. Barbara Fredrickson, a positive psychology researcher at the University of North Carolina, came up with the "broaden-and-build" theory to describe happiness' effect on brain function. In her 2008 "landmark paper," she proved positive emotions could broaden an individual's sense of possibilities and open their mind, allowing them to build new skills and resources that can enhance other parts of their life. Furthermore, psychologist Michael F. Scheier, whose 1985 research into "dispositional optimism" blazed the trail for modern happiness research, told The Atlantic, "I think it's now safe to say that optimism is clearly associated with better psychological health."

Over the years, these studies have become so influential that now the World Health Organization considers happiness an important component of overall health. That's good news for our social experiment subjects who got to experience firsthand the positive health benefits of, well, positivity. Once the happiness started to spread, there was no stopping it — not that anyone would want to. 


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