12:18am Thursday 14 December 2017

Helping understand compassionate action

Can understanding compassion make the world a better place?Can the world become a better place if we unravel the motivations that drive people to display compassion?

University of Queensland School of Psychology experts Dr James Kirby and Dr Stan Steindl believe so.

The Australian duo has teamed up with researchers from the Centre for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at Stanford University to solve a complex equation.

“Compassion is something the world could do with more of, but it’s largely unknown how motivated and committed people are to being compassionate,” Dr Kirby said.

“One of the great aspects of compassion is that it has a two-pronged benefit.

“Firstly, it helps relieve and alleviate suffering for others and, secondly, by being compassionate, the individual also feels happier and has a greater sense of quality of life.

“Research has found that people with higher levels of compassion have fewer problems with stress, anger and anxiety than people with lower levels of compassion.”

The UQ study on compassion is a simple online survey that requires about 20 minutes to complete.

Researchers are seeking 600 people aged 18 and over to participate.

“If we can better understand people’s motivation to be compassionate, we can ultimately help individuals become more compassionate, not only with others, but also with themselves,” Dr Steindl said.

“There are programs like Stanford’s Compassion Cultivation Training that are aimed to help cultivate compassion.

“However, we don’t really know if these programs are helping increase compassionate action, as no measure exists to assess this very important behaviour.

“This question is now the very focus of our research.”

UQ will host The Compassion in Action Forum on 16-17 October at the St Lucia campus in Brisbane.

Speakers will cover four major topics – philosophy, religion, psychology and medicine – and how compassion can be integrated into research and practical environments.

Click here to register your attendance for both days, or alternatively book only for the keynote address on Friday or Saturday’s symposium.

Media: Dr James Kirby +617 3365 7290, j.kirby@psy.uq.edu.au; UQ Communications Robert Burgin +617 3346 3035, +617 448 410 364, r.burgin@uq.edu.au


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