Published Research Supported By CCARE Scientists.
Since its inception, CCARE has supported and collaborated on a number of groundbreaking research projects that have resulted in cross-disciplinary publications on the science of compassion. Below, please find a list of our publications with a summary of their findings.
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Seppala, E. M., Nitschke, J. B., Tudorascu, D. L., Hayes, A., Goldstein, M. R., Nguyen, D. T. H., Perlman, D., & Davidson, R. J. (in press). Breathing-based meditation decreases posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms in military veterans: A randomized controlled longitudinal study. Journal of Traumatic Stress.
In this pilot study, researchers examined the effects of a breathing-based meditation, Sudarshan Kriya Yoga (active), on PTSD outcome variables in OEF/OIF veterans to a wait-list control (control) at four time points (baseline, immediately postintervention, 1 month, and 12 months). The active group showed reductions in PTSD scores, anxiety, and respiration rate whereas the control group did not. Reductions in startle correlated with reductions in hyperarousal symptoms at the one- and 12-month follow-ups. Investigators conclude the intervention may be of clinical utility as an adjunct treatment for PTSD.
Martin, D., Seppala, E., Heineberg, Y., Rossomando, T., Doty, J., Zimbardo, P., … & Zhou, Y. (In Press). Multiple facets of compassion: The impact of social dominance orientation and economic systems justification. Journal of Business Ethics. DOI: 10.1007/s10551-014-2157-0
Accordingly, the following study aimed to examine the relationship between SDO and compassion while hypothesizing Economic Systems Justification (ESJ) would mediate this relationship. Because of the importance of compassion in the workplace, the prevalence of SDO in the business academic community (Sidanius et al. 1991) and the topicality of ESJ, we conducted our study with business school students.
Feinberg, M., Willer, R., & Schultz, M. (2014). Gossip and ostracism promote cooperation in groups. Psychological Science, 25(3), 656-665. doi:10.1177/0956797613510184
This study examined how gossip promotes cooperation among groups while preventing exploitation of ostracized individuals. The excluded individuals, in turn, respond by cooperating at levels comparable to those of non-ostracized individuals. The study suggests that gossip promotes prosocial behavior due to reputation saliency.
Genevsky, A., Vastfjall, D., Slovic, P., & Knutson, B. (2013). Neural underpinnings of the identifiable victim effect: Affect shifts preferences for giving. The Journal of Neuroscience, 33(43), 17188-17196. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2348-13.2013
This study measured compassion and giving at the level of brain function. The investigators found that emotional reaction toward the recipient impacted the neural and behavioral correlates of giving. In particular, the more people could relate to someone in need (by identifying their physical features) and the more positively participants felt toward someone in need, the more likely they were to want to give to them.
Seppala, E., Rossomando, T., & Doty, J. (2013). Social connection and compassion: Important predictors of health and well-being. Social Research, 80(2), 411-430. doi:10.1353/sor.2013.0027
Several decades of research on social connection now confirm that social connection is linked to a substantial number of psychological and physical health benefits as well as longer survival rates. Despite its importance, sociological research suggests that social connection is waning at an alarming rate in modern American society. In view of the importance of social connection as a human motivator and determinant of well-being, the authors present social connection’s benefits for health, well-being and behavior as well as the detrimental effects of loneliness and give an overview about potential ways to increase social connection through the cultivation of compassion.
Jazaieri, H., McGonigal, K., Jinpa, T., Doty, J. R., Gross, J. J., & Golden, P. R. (2013). A randomized controlled trial of compassion cultivation training: Effects on mindfulness, affect, and emotion regulation. Motivation and Emotion, 38, 23-35. doi: 10.1007/s11031-013-9368-z
Researchers compared the effects of a 9-week compassion cultivation training (CCT) program to a wait-list (WL) control group on mindfulness, affect, and emotion regulation. Compared to WL, CCT resulted in increased mindfulness and happiness, as well as decreased worry and emotional suppression. Implications for cognitive and emotion factors in relation to psychological well-being are discussed.
Berger, R., Gelkopf, M., & Heineberg, Y. (2012). A teacher-delivered intervention for adolescents exposed to ongoing and intense traumatic war-related stress: A quasi-randomized controlled study. Journal of Adolescent Health, 51, 453-461. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2012.02.011
This study compared a stress-reduction intervention (ERASE-stress) to a wait-list control in 154 Israeli middle school children, half of whom had symptoms of war-related trauma. The active group showed a significant reduction in self-reported trauma-related symptoms (anxiety, post-traumatic stress, somatic symptoms and functional impairment).
Koopmann-Holm, B., Sze, J., Ochs, C., & Tsai, J. L. (2013). Buddhist-inspired meditation increases the value of calm. Emotion, 13(3), 497-505. doi:10.1037/a0031070
This study measured the “actual” and “ideal” affects of meditation. The participants hoped to feel more calm and less excited after meditating. After eight weeks the meditation group reported feeling more calm; however, there were no differences between them and the two control groups in ideal or actual excitement. The findings suggest that meditation increases the ideal affect of calmness but not actual affect.
Simon-Thomas, E. R., Godzik, J., Castle, E., Antonenko, E., Ponz, A., Kogan, A., & Keltner, D. J. (2012). An fMRI study of caring vs. self-focus during induced compassion and pride. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 7(6), 635-648. doi:10.1093/scan/nsr045
This study compared brain regions activated during compassion, an other-oriented emotion, to brain regions activated during pride, a more self-focused emotion. Slides were used to induce either compassion or pride and emotions were measured using fMRI. Compassion was associated with activity in the “empathy network,” regions of the brain responsible for pain and the perception of others’ pain as well as parental nurturing behaviors. Pride, on the other hand, was associated with activity in regions associated with thoughts about oneself.
Jazaieri, H., Jinpa, G., McGonigal, K., Rosenberg, E., Finkelstein, J., Simon-Thomas, E., Cullen, M., Doty, J., Gross, J., & Goldin, P. (2012). Enhancing compassion: A randomized controlled trial of a Compassion Cultivation Training program. Journal of Happiness Studies, 14, 1113-1126. doi:10.1007/s10902-012-9373-z
This study measured the impact of a compassion training program on fear of compassion and self-compassion. Furthermore, the study asked whether compassion can be trained and cultivated. Participants filled out questionnaires before and after a 9-week Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT) program. The scientists observed a decrease in fear of compassion and an increase in self-compassion. The data also suggest that certain elements of compassion can be cultivated through training.