From Inner Change Towards a More Caring Economy: The Neuroscience of Motivation, Care and Compassion
Abstract: In the last decades our society has faced many global and economic problems that call for new solutions and change. Emerging fields such as affective-social and contemplative neurosciences as well as neuro-economics have produced promising findings that can help inform such necessary changes as well as inform new economic models which integrate psychological and biological knowledge about human motivation and decision making. For example, plasticity research has suggested that training of mental capacities such as compassion and care is indeed effective and leads to changes in brain functions associated with increases in mental health, well-being and pro-social behaviors and cooperation. Evidence for the trainability and alterability of what economists have postulated being fixed and context-insensitive preferences questions classic views of homo economicus and call for the development of new decision-making models based on care and affiliation and not only on consumption motivation. In this talk, she will introduce the idea of caring economics and review findings from two mental training studies: the Resource Project, a large-scale multi-methodological one-year secular mental training program that aims at the cultivation of attention and social skills such as empathy, compassion and perspective taking, and the CovSocial Project, focusing on assessing changes in mental health, social cohesion and resilience throughout the Covid19 pandemic in 2020/21/22. She will show how such mental trainings can indeed foster resilience and social skills as well as cooperation and human prosociality. Further she will show how 10-weeks mental online training including 12-minutes daily partner-based practices, so called Contemplative Dyads, can actually reduce increasing levels of loneliness and stress elicited by multiple consecutive lock-downs during the Covid19 pandemic and increase social connectedness and resilience. She will discuss these findings in light of their relevance for caring economics models aiming at reintroducing secular ethics and care in society emphasizing the need to step into a global responsibility through personal change.
About Prof. Dr. Tania Singer
Tania Singer is the scientific head of the Social Neuroscience Lab of the Max Planck Society in Berlin, Germany. After doing her PhD in Psychology at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, she became a Post-doctoral Fellow at the same institution, at the Wellcome Department of Imaging Neuroscience, and at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience in London. In 2006, she first became Assistant Professor and later Inaugural Chair of Social Neuroscience and Neuroeconomics as well as Co-Director of the Laboratory for Social and Neural Systems Research at the University of Zurich. Between 2010 and 2018 Tania Singer was the director of the department of Social Neurosciences at the Max Planck Institute of Cognitive and Human Development in Leipzig. Tania Singer is author of more than 150 scientific articles and book chapters and edited together with Mathieu Ricard the two books Caring Economics (2015) and Power and Care (2019).
Her research focus is on the hormonal, neuronal, and developmental basis of human sociality, empathy and compassion, and their malleability through mental training. Learning from contemplative traditions from the East, she has initiated and headed one of the largest meditation-based secular mental training studies on compassion, the ReSource project. Linking such findings to the field of (neuro)economics, she developed a Caring Economics approach, developing new models of economy based on care and social cohesion. She is also heading the CovSocial project, a large-scale study on stress, resilience and social cohesion in Berliners during the corona crisis. Throughout her life she has explored how inner change can bring about societal change putting science in the service of societal transformation. Web: taniasinger.de