How Science Makes Having Compassion Easier

While compassion is often the subject of religious and philosophical dictum, we can readily make ourselves more compassionate by thinking differently, say experimental psychologists. 

What's the Latest Development?


Experimental psychologists are learning that our sense of compassion, which helps us empathize with others, extends beyond the person we feel for and that we can actually train ourselves to be kinder, less prejudiced people. In one experiment, where people were given to punishing a person who cheated on the experiment's tasks for personal gain, less punishment was doled out when a female subject of the experiment (secretly in cahoots with the scientists conducting the study) began to cry and tell of how her brother had been diagnosed with a terminal illness. In other words, the sympathy felt for the woman carried over to others and resulted in less punishment being given to the cheater. 

What's the Big Idea?

Another experiment showed how strong and yet how easily forged are the bonds of compassion. Two subjects who simply tapped their hands on a buzzer at the same time, rather than at asynchronous intervals, felt more compassion for one another, demonstrated by their willingness to later help one another with some onerous word problems. The scientists behind the experiment conclude that we do not need religious or philosophical dictum to convince us to act compassionately toward each other: "Increased compassion for one’s neighbor, for instance, can come from something as easy as encouraging yourself to think of him as (say) a fan of the same local restaurant instead of as a member of a different ethnicity."

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

 

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

People who engage in fat-shaming tend to score high in this personality trait

A new study explores how certain personality traits affect individuals' attitudes on obesity in others.

Pixabay
Mind & Brain
  • The study compared personality traits and obesity views among more than 3,000 mothers.
  • The results showed that the personality traits neuroticism and extraversion are linked to more negative views and behaviors related to obesity.
  • People who scored high in conscientiousness are more likely to experience "fat phobia.
Keep reading Show less

4 anti-scientific beliefs and their damaging consequences

The rise of anti-scientific thinking and conspiracy is a concerning trend.

Moon Landing Apollo
popular
  • Fifty years later after one of the greatest achievements of mankind, there's a growing number of moon landing deniers. They are part of a larger trend of anti-scientific thinking.
  • Climate change, anti-vaccination and other assorted conspiratorial mindsets are a detriment and show a tangible impediment to fostering real progress or societal change.
  • All of these separate anti-scientific beliefs share a troubling root of intellectual dishonesty and ignorance.
Keep reading Show less

Reigning in brutality - how one man's outrage led to the Red Cross and the Geneva Conventions

The history of the Geneva Conventions tells us how the international community draws the line on brutality.

Napoleon III at the Battle of Solferino. Painting by Adolphe Yvon. 1861.
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Henry Dunant's work led to the Red Cross and conventions on treating prisoners humanely.
  • Four Geneva Conventions defined the rules for prisoners of war, torture, naval and medical personnel and more.
  • Amendments to the agreements reflect the modern world but have not been ratified by all countries.
Keep reading Show less