Is Mankind? The Experts Weigh In

Is man kind?
The answer to this question really depends on your own experience. What have you witnessed in the world? Who do you surround yourself with? What kindness do you share on a daily basis?
Of course, there is no easy yes or no answer, but the question is one we are deeply moved by as we see kindness as the foundation of our Airbnb community. We enlisted the help of the experts to answer this question in a more meaningful way. Emiliana Simon-Thomas, Ph.D., the science director at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center and Paul Piff, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology and Social Behavior at the University of California, Irvine conducted a study on our behalf to understand our social cynicism, how our views of human kindness can be altered, and how social media (yes, social media) may be a surprising solution to seeing more kindness in the world. Below is what they had to share.

What would you say if we asked whether your family and friends—the people you care about, work with, or just know—are mostly kind or unkind? Take a minute to think about it. Now imagine this follow-up question: What about people in general, that is, everyone in society? Do you think people are mostly kind, or unkind?
If you answered these two questions differently, you are not alone. In a recent survey conducted by Airbnb on thousands of people’s views about kindness in the US, the UK, and Australia, two-thirds said that most of the people they know are kind. But when asked about society in general, the proportion dropped to less than half; people were more likely to view society in general as unkind. Where is this social cynicism coming from?
Today, thanks in part to urban living, efficient travel, and magnificently increased connectivity, we’re exposed to ever-greater numbers of strangers, and a world of social information is, quite literally, at our fingertips. Could all this connectivity be exposing us to a biased picture of humankind—one that’s more negative than what we’re likely to experience face to face—that’s shaping how we see others in society?
Airbnb’s survey points in just this direction. Asked about the balance of positive to negative stories and posts they see online, most people reported too much negative; roughly half reported witnessing unkindness online at least once per week. A large number of people felt that seeing too much negativity online was causing a more cynical outlook on humanity. Asked whether levels of kindness or unkindness had changed in their lifetimes, 60% of the people chose “society has become more unkind.” This experience, that is, being exposed to too much negative compared to positive news, may be causing us to view humankind as less kind.
This social cynicism, though understandable, is misplaced. The latest findings in the social and biological sciences suggest that we are “ultra-social”—fundamentally cooperative, generous, and kind. Humans are equipped with biological systems dedicated to understanding, caring about and cooperating with others. Babies as young as 5 months old prefer kind others, and by fourteen months, they show joy in sharing, and spontaneously help others. Asked to split a resource between themselves and a stranger, people tend to choose to give between 40% and 50%—high levels of generosity considering that the stranger is typically anonymous and there are no repercussions for keeping everything. A recent report from the Charities Aid Foundation reported that in 2014, 2.3 billion people worldwide took the time to help a stranger within the past month. Overall, evidence points to kindness as a deeply ingrained characteristic of human nature.
Given the view that humankind is shifting for the worse, we believe that the very thing that may be fueling this cynicism—popular, online and social media—is also an integral part of the solution. More frequent encounters with positive stories about the kind things that people do, that uplift and inspire, and that remind us of people’s inherent goodness, would most certainly inform how commonplace we think such acts are in society. The more we encounter stories about human kindness, the more likely we are to view humans in general as kind—more closely to how we feel about the people we know.
There is another benefit to seeing more positive news stories, more often. Simply witnessing the virtuous behavior of others can make us more kind. For example, when a person watches a brief video of another person’s generous act, they themselves want to “become a better person” and they tend to offer more help to others. Other studies report that kindness and cooperative behaviors ‘cascade’ among social networks: when people behave kindly on social networks, others follow suit. The implication? Kindness is contagious: Witnessing the kindness of others, whether through face-to-face experiences or media, online or through social media channels, elevates us and inspires us, to be better people, more moral, and more kind.
The Airbnb survey suggests that our appetite for more positive news is actually quite strong: People overwhelmingly want more positive stories, and prefer reading positive over negative stories by a factor of 10 to 1. Online media and social networks are excellent vehicles for sharing and broadcasting stories of kindness—the level of access and immediacy they provide is unprecedented in human history. AirBnB’s Daily Kindness Bulletin might just be a perfect place for this, sharing stories from people all over the world meeting, connecting and growing fond of one another other, and beginning to steer the balance of too-much-negative to more true-to-life positive. Just as ripples spread from a stone dropped into water, stories of kindness spread, their effects reverberating through our communities, serving as a much-needed reminder that humankind, indeed, is kind.

Relevant research:
Narcissism is increasing, social trust is decreasing:
Kindness, elevation can inspire kindness:
Kindness is good for you:
Kindness can spread through networks:
Fowler & Christakis, 2010: Cooperative behavior cascades in human social networks
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Empowering Female Travelers

Over 40 million guests have stayed on Airbnb to date, and tonight over 500,000 people will stay on Airbnb around the world. Safety is the top priority of our community.  It’s why we’ve created programs and tools like our $1 Million Host Guarantee, our Host Protection Insurance, and Verified ID. Every day, our global Trust and Safety team works to help our community make all experiences on Airbnb more positive, memorable, and meaningful.
We are proud that Airbnb is one of the most trusted communities in the world, and we are constantly developing and improving tools and resources to help hosts and guests make every part of their Airbnb experience a positive one.
Earlier this year, our Trust and Safety team began conducting Women’s Safety Workshops in cities across the U.S. and the Europe to look specifically at ways we can do more to empower our female hosts and guests.  We know that over 50% of our hosts and guests are women, and want to make sure that the female members of our community can Belong Anywhere. We’ve partnered with leading national and regional groups working in violence prevention to provide trainings, presentations and insights for our Airbnb community members around women’s safety and to explore ways that we can constantly build upon our work in this area.
The workshops aim to better educate those in the Airbnb community about the tools and resources we have in place within our existing Trust and Safety program, as well as provide guidance on topics specific to women’s safety from advocates and nonprofits working in this area.  We also want to learn directly from our hosts and guests. Some of our best ideas come from within our community, and our female hosts and guests are in a unique position to contribute to the innovative solutions, product changes, and resources that will help Airbnb set a global standard for safety and hospitality.
Thus far we’ve held workshops in Dublin, San Francisco, New York, and London, with more planned in the coming months. In addition to our ongoing work with the National Network to End Domestic Violence, we have partnered with great organizations including SAFE Ireland, the Family Violence Law Center, W.O.M.A.N. Inc., Safe Horizon, and Women’s Aid for these workshops. We have also supported the Global Network of Women’s Shelters in their ongoing work to end violence against women and provide resources to those in need around the world.
With over 40 million guests and over 1.2 million listings across over 190 countries, trust is what makes Airbnb work. We are committed to empowering our female hosts and guests to continue making Airbnb one of the most trusted communities in the world.

This post was written by Emily Gonzales and Anna Steel, Operations Managers of Airbnb’s Trust and Safety Team.
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Local List: Exploring the Best of Chicago

Going “local” in Chicago can be almost as easy as showing up. (Almost.) This city is rich with diverse neighborhoods, each featuring distinct cultures and flavors from all over the world. So it’s not necessarily about where you live, but how you choose to explore these everyday experiences. Whether you call Chicago home or are just passing through for a few days, you can easily take in what each community offers–from world-renowned restaurants and acclaimed museums to sprawling green space and up-and-coming breweries. Chicago is quite the playground of local goodness. And this guide is our way of helping you find the most authentic gems that make Chicago so fantastic.
Our Chicago Local List was pulled together from our local host community’s own personal recommendations, so we’re proud to feature their Chicago favorites in a limited-edition printed guide illustrated by local artist Mickey Burton as well as right here in digital form, organized by neighborhood.
Whether you live here and are looking for something new to explore or you just flew from the other side of the globe, it’s easy to see why Chicago is a city where we all can feel at home. Happy exploring!

MOST LOVED COFFEE SHOP: The 3rd Coast Cafe & Wine Bar (Gold Coast)
ONE-OF-A-KIND COCKTAILS AND BREWS: Three Dots and a Dash (River North)
BEST KEPT SECRET: The Drifter (River North)
AUTHENTIC BITE OF CHICAGO: Gibson’s Bar & Steakhouse (Gold Coast)
ARCHITECTURAL GEM: Chicago Water Tower (Magnificent Mile)
TOP SPOT TO CATCH A GAME: Weather Mark Tavern (South Loop)
FAVORITE NEIGHBORHOOD PATIO: Bridge House Tavern (River North)
LEGENDARY BRUNCH: The Bongo Room (South Loop)

MOST LOVED COFFEE SHOP: Intelligentsia Coffee (Wicker Park)
BEST KEPT SECRET: Half Shell (Lakeview)
AUTHENTIC BITE OF CHICAGO: Twin Anchors Restaurant & Tavern (Lincoln Park)
ARCHITECTURAL GEM: Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo (Lincoln Park)
TOP SPOT TO CATCH A GAME: Benchmark (Old Town)
LEGENDARY BRUNCH: Lula Cafe (Logan Square)

MOST LOVED COFFEE SHOP: The Growling Rabbit (Rogers Park)
ONE-OF-A-KIND COCKTAILS AND BREWS: Hopleaf (Andersonville)
BEST KEPT SECRET: Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary (Montrose Beach/Uptown)
AUTHENTIC BITE OF CHICAGO: Budacki’s Drive In (Ravenswood)
ARCHITECTURAL GEM: Graceland Cemetery (Uptown)
LOCALLY LOVED LIVE MUSIC VENUE: Green Mill Cocktail Lounge (Uptown)
TOP SPOT TO CATCH A GAME: The Norse Bar (Edgewater)
FAVORITE NEIGHBORHOOD PATIO: Bistro Campagne (Lincoln Square)
LEGENDARY BRUNCH: Tweet Let’s Eat (Uptown)

MOST LOVED COFFEE SHOP: Bridgeport Coffee Company (Bridgeport)
ONE-OF-A-KIND COCKTAILS AND BREWS: Maria’s Packaged Goods & Community Bar (Bridgeport)
BEST KEPT SECRET: Jimmy Jamm’s Sweet Potato Pies (Beverly)
AUTHENTIC BITE OF CHICAGO: Vito & Nick’s Pizzeria (Ashburn)
ARCHITECTURAL GEM: Pullman National Monument (Pullman)
TOP SPOT TO CATCH A GAME: Good Time Sports Bar (Bronzeville)
FAVORITE NEIGHBORHOOD PATIO: Plein Air Café & Eatery (Hyde Park)
 LEGENDARY BRUNCH: Norman’s Bistro (Kenwood)

MOST LOVED COFFEE SHOP: Big Shoulders Coffee (West Town)
ONE-OF-A-KIND COCKTAILS AND BREWS: Goose Island Brewery & Taproom (West Town)
BEST KEPT SECRET: Garfield Park Conservatory (Garfield Park)
ARCHITECTURAL GEM: National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture (Humboldt Park)
LOCALLY LOVED LIVE MUSIC VENUE: The Empty Bottle (Ukrainian Village)
TOP SPOT TO CATCH A GAME: The Ogden (West Town)
FAVORITE NEIGHBORHOOD PATIO: Homestead on the Roof (West Town)
LEGENDARY BRUNCH: Wishbone (West Loop)
Live in Chicago? Share your neighborhood and help guests explore the best of local by becoming a host!
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Is ManKind?

As we grow older, we’re often nervous about new experiences. When we go to a new place, many of us are afraid that we won’t be accepted, that we’ll feel lost or alone. When you fear the unknown and avoid strangers, it’s easy to question Man’s kindness.
What if we could explore the world with the fearlessness of a child? As children, we’re all fearless explorers. What if we could recapture that magic of adventure and sense of being at home anywhere?
We’re born to experience the world around us with wonder, enthusiasm, and courage. We begin our lives with a natural ability to feel like we belong anywhere.
Over the past seven years at Airbnb, we’ve found that the reason for this is simple:
Kindness is universal. It allows us to transcend barriers of race, religion and culture. It’s present in the way our hosts open their homes, in those small acts of hospitality that accumulate each day and transform our interactions.
Kindness is the foundation of our entire community – Airbnb hosts aren’t just sharing their homes, they’re sharing part of themselves. When guests open their doors, they’re opening their hearts and minds as well.
“The breakthrough of Airbnb is that it does more than give you a place to sleep – it changes the way you experience the world,” adds our CEO and co-founder Brian Chesky. “Because when we trust in the kindness of our fellow man, we discover that the world isn’t such a scary place after all.”
Today, we’re unveiling a new campaign called “Is Mankind?” We hope it inspires you to look around the world and see it as a child again. To feel safe and loved and like adventure is waiting around every corner.

We want to hear your thoughts. We hope you will go and see for yourselves: Stay in our hosts’ homes, hear their stories, understand their lives. Then share your experiences with our community. What kindness do you see in the world? Join the conversation at #Mankind and let’s experience and celebrate these moments of kindness together.
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