When12:00 pm to 4:30 pm, April 4, 2014
LocationPaul Brest Hall
555 Salvatierra Walk, Stanford, CA, United States
Calling all graduate students, faculty, and postdoctoral fellows in psychology, neuroscience and related fields: Please join compassion and altruism researchers from all across the Bay Area at the Compassion Consortium hosted by the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE).
The Consortium will involve research presentations by graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty members from Davis, UC Berkeley, and Stanford. The deadline for registration is March 28th.
Please note that this is not a public event and only open to academics in the field. If you do not meet this criteria and are still interested in attending, please email Maaheem at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Compassion Consortium Schedule
12:00 -1:00: Lunch provided
1:00 – 1:15: Introductory Remarks (Dr. James Doty, Founder and Director of CCARE)
1:15 – 1:35 Jonas Miller (Graduate Student, UC Davis)
Physiological Benefits of Costly Giving: Links between Children’s Altruism, Vagal Regulation, and Family Income:
Previous research has shown that altruism, although costly, may promote well-being for those who give. However, little is known about the biological and environmental correlates, as well as potential benefits, of altruism in childhood. In the present study, we present evidence that 1) children who forgo self-gain to help others tend to show healthier vagal regulation than those who do not, 2) children from less wealthy families behave more altruistically than those from wealthier families, and 3) this altruistic behavior buffers less economically advantaged children from exhibiting low levels of vagal functioning associated with low family income. These results suggest that altruism should be viewed through a biopsychosocial lens, that engaging in altruism in childhood may promote healthy vagal functioning, and that behaving altruistically can serve as a compensatory pathway to physiological resilience for children who may otherwise be at risk.
1:40 – 2:00 Alex Genevsky (Graduate Student, Stanford University)
Affective and Neural Bases of the Identifiable Victim Effect:
The identifiable victim effect describes the fact that people prefer to give to vivid identified victims than to anonymous victims of misfortune. Affect has been thought to contribute to this effect, but research has not yet established exactly which emotions matter and how. To further understand the role of affect in the identifiable victim effect we first ran a behavioral study to establish the effect within-subjects and identify affective correlates. We than ran an FMRI on 22 individuals to explore the neural underpinnings of our observed behavioral effect. Prior to the study, subjects were given a monetary endowment from which they could choose to donate on each trial of the experiment (one of which would be randomly selected to count “for real”). During each trial subjects sequentially saw either a photograph or silhouette of an African orphan, an amount for the requested donation, and made a choice whether or not to donate. We found that just viewing a photograph increased peoples’ willingness to donate (by about 50%). This increase in giving was associated with and statistically mediated by self-reported ratings of positive, rather than negative, arousal in response to the photographs. Further, in our imaging study we found that although a number of neural regions were responsive to the photograph vs. silhouette contrast, only the nucleus accumbens predicted eventual decisions to give. Current behavioral and neural findings suggest that the identifiable victim effect may be explained by positively aroused feelings and nucleus accumbens activation in response to affectively evocative identifiable information. This activity may compel people to give to others based on identifiable and affectively compelling characteristics, even in spite of costs to themselves.
2:05 – 2:25 Joanne Chung (Graduate Student, UC Davis)
The Fine Line between Contempt and Compassion: Contempt as the Antithesis of Compassion:
Contempt and compassion are two fundamental emotions that are associated with radically different responses to recognizing that someone is flawed or in need. Little is known about why some people respond to another who is in a compromised position with contempt, and why others respond with compassion. To examine this issue, we investigated compassion and contempt on the dispositional level. We found that they are characterized by opposing tendencies along a range of individual-difference variables (e.g., self-esteem, personality profiles, proneness to self-conscious emotions, coping tendencies, interpersonal reactivity). Furthermore, we found that individual differences in contempt-proneness predicted whether one reacted with contempt or compassion to stimuli (i.e., film clips) capable of eliciting either. Finally, these findings suggest that the extent to which one has enough psychological resources to process or cope with the situation might sway one toward contempt or compassion. Our research demonstrates a complementary nature for contempt and compassion, and suggests that contempt may be a contender for the antithesis of compassion. We conclude by discussing how a better understanding of contempt may enhance our understanding of compassion.
2:25 – 2:40 Break (refreshments provided)
2:40 – 3:00 Sylvia Morelli (Postdoctoral Fellow, Stanford University)
Prosociality in Close Relationships: Consequences for Provider Well-Being:
Individuals often endure material and psychological burdens in order to support close others, but costs are often more than outweighed by the physical and mental health benefits of prosociality. Although prior work suggests that prosociality constitutes a powerful salutary force for providers, several key features of prosociality and its effects remain poorly understood. First, we know little about the comprehensive structure of prosociality in close relationships. Second, it is unclear which which prosocial behaviors lead to the largest boosts in provider well-being. In our study, we measured individuals’ empathy and helpful behaviors when responding to close friends in daily life. We found that relationship prosociality has a two-factor structure that captures the quantity and quality of support provided. Across levels of analysis, providing higher quality support is associated with enhanced well-being for the provider. Further, providing a high quantity & quality of support leads to largest benefits. In contrast, providing a high quantity, but low quality support negatively impacts the provider’s well-being. These results suggest that the quality of the support you provide is critical for your own well-being.
3:05 – 3:25 Dan Martin (Associate Professor of Management, Cal State University East Bay)
Multiple facets of Compassion: Basic Research and Applications:
Compassion facilitates workplace performance by lowering levels of litigation, easing stress, and facilitating cooperation. Given the utility of compassion in the workplace, we examined the relationship between peoples preference for maintaining hierarchies in society (social dominance orientation-SDO) and compassion while hypothesizing Economic Systems Justification would mediate this relationship. Because of the importance of compassion in the workplace, the prevalence of SDO in the business academic community and the topicality of Economic Systems Justification. Compassion development applications and pilot will be discussed.
3:30 – 3:50 Yotam Heineberg (Clinical supervisor and instructor, Palo Alto University)
Applied Psychological Interventions: An outline for the global increase of compassion:
Dr. Heineberg will present on the salience of compassion in the context of its relation to various markers of well-being, as well as high scale strategies towards compassion increase. Building off expensive expert mediated models Dr. Heineberg will address the acute need for cost and results effective interventions, utilizing train the trainers psycho-educational programs, as well as web based interactive programs.
3:50 – 4:00 Break
4:00 – 4:30 Panel Discussion (moderated by Jennifer Stellar)
Jennifer Stellar (Postdoctoral Fellow, UC Berkeley)
Emiliana Simon-Thomas (Science Director of the Greater Good Science Center, UC Berkeley)
Emma Seppala (Associate Director of CCARE)
Dan Martin (Associate Professor of Management, Cal State University East Bay)
Yotam Heineberg (Clinical supervisor and instructor, Palo Alto University)