Although empathy is crucial for successful social interactions, excessive sharing of others’ negative emotions may be maladaptive
and constitute a source of burnout. To investigate functional neural plasticity underlying the augmentation of empathy and
to test the counteracting potential of compassion, one group of participants was first trained in empathic resonance and subsequently
in compassion. In response to videos depicting human suffering, empathy training, but not memory training (control group),
increased negative affect and brain activations in anterior insula and anterior midcingulate cortex—brain regions previously
associated with empathy for pain. In contrast, subsequent compassion training could reverse the increase in negative effect
and, in contrast, augment self-reports of positive affect. In addition, compassion training increased activations in a non-overlapping
brain network spanning ventral striatum, pregenual anterior cingulate cortex and medial orbitofrontal cortex. We conclude
that training compassion may reflect a new coping strategy to overcome empathic distress and strengthen resilience.
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... Conceptually, compassion is broader than empathy in that i) it is "not only felt for close others (where attachment comes into play as well), but also for those we do not know", and that ii) it can be felt for larger targets, like humanity at large, beyond specific interpersonal encounters . Neuroimaging studies found that empathy training (focused on resonating with suffering) and compassion training (meditationrelated techniques that foster feelings of benevolence and kindness) activated non-overlapping brain networks [65,115]. Aligning with Strauss's definition, while empathic training produced negative affect, feelings associated with compassionate responses were positive, other-oriented and facilitated prosocial motivation and behavior [65,115]. ...
... Neuroimaging studies found that empathy training (focused on resonating with suffering) and compassion training (meditationrelated techniques that foster feelings of benevolence and kindness) activated non-overlapping brain networks [65,115]. Aligning with Strauss's definition, while empathic training produced negative affect, feelings associated with compassionate responses were positive, other-oriented and facilitated prosocial motivation and behavior [65,115]. These outcomes suggest that compassion may lead to resilience, instead of distress and fatigue [53,99]. ...
Much HCI research on prompting prosocial behaviors focuses on methods for increasing empathy. However, increased empathy may have unintended negative consequences. Our work offers an alternative solution that encourages critical reflection for nurturing compassion, which involves motivation and action to help others. In a between-subject experiment, participants (N=60) viewed a climate change documentary while receiving no prompts (CON), reflective prompts to focus on their emotions (RE) or surprises (RS). State compassion, critical reflection, and motivation to act or learn were measured at the end of the session (post-video) and two weeks later (follow-up). Despite participants' condition not affecting compassion, critical reflection was positively correlated with post-video state compassion. RE and RS participants demonstrated deeper reflection and reported higher motivation to learn post-video, and more prosocial behavioral changes during follow-up. RS participants reported better follow-up recall than RE participants. We conclude by discussing implications on designing technology to support compassion and longer-term critical reflection.
... Recent theory and research from social neuroscience (Klimecki et al., 2013, psychology (Jordan et al., 2016;Romani-Sponchiado et al., 2021), and philosophy of cognitive neuroscience (de Vignemont & Jacob, 2012;de Vignemont & Singer, 2006) suggest it is in fact empathy helpers should avoid and compassion helpers should cultivate to promote their own well-being and that of others. Therefore, we build our own work analytical approach to compassion work on this growing trend to narrow down and disentangle the concepts of contagion, empathy, and compassion, rather than subsuming phenomena such as emotional contagion, empathic concern, empathic distress, compassion stress, compassion fatigue, vicarious stress, perspective taking, to name a few, under the umbrella of empathy (de Vignemont & Jacob, 2012;de Vignemont & Singer, 2006;Klimecki et al., 2013Klimecki et al., , 2014Klimecki & Singer, 2011;. Table 1 summarises the main similarities and differences of contagion, empathy, compassion, and empathic distress on the basis of a taxonomy provided by de Vignemont and Jacob (2012). ...
... It is a core attribute of the meaningfulness and significance of human service work (Bolton, 2000;Grant, 2007), a source of pleasure and positive feelings derived from helping others that is referred to as compassion satisfaction (Stamm, 2002), and related to human services workers' well-being (Mongrain et al., 2011). Importantly, compassion differs from empathy (de Vignemont & Singer, 2006;Goetz et al., 2010;Jordan et al., 2016;Klimecki et al., 2014). Thus, while some scholars prefer to use a wider definition of "empathy" that include compassion and feelings of warmth and concern for others in need (i.e. ...
... These findings support that self-compassion appears to be an adaptive emotion regulation strategy in eating disorders and body image (Turk & Waller, 2020). Self-compassion can protect against dysfunctional attempts to regulate emotions in eating disorders and body image concerns (Klimecki et al., 2014;Braun et al., 2016). Instead of escaping negative emotions with self-compassion, these emotions are recognized as valid and important. ...
... Instead of escaping negative emotions with self-compassion, these emotions are recognized as valid and important. Selfcompassion training can activate brain areas associated with positive emotions (Klimecki et al., 2014). The results of 21 studies show that higher levels of body image concerns are associated with lower levels of selfcompassion. ...
Being in optimal body composition is an important factor in athletes due to factors such as health, performance and success of athletes. In general, lean body mass is considered an indicator of muscle fitness and is a performance-related factor. Bodybuilding is a branch of sports that aims to increase the strength and volume of the muscles and is mostly done by men. After a while, the training goals can move towards body images that cannot be achieved under normal conditions. In this review, it is aimed to examine the relationship between body composition, self-esteem and body image on male bodybuilders. Recent studies have shown an increased interest in the relationship between body dissatisfaction, self-esteem and body image. It is seen that there is a negative relationship between self-esteem and body image in individuals with body dissatisfaction. Approaches that change one's self-esteem and body image can lead to positive results in a treatment that will provide an approach to body dissatisfaction. More work is needed on this subject.
... Mitigating COVID-19 pandemic's legacy of compassion fatigue is a crucial first step to faculty reengagement. Mindfulness practices have been empirically demonstrated to reduce our negative emotional response to other's suffering (Klimecki et al., 2014), increase our likelihood of taking compassionate action (Condon et al., 2013;Leiberg et al., 2011;Weng et al., 2013), and ultimately reduce the overall experience of compassion fatigue (Owens et al., 2020;Watts et al., 2021). In a workshop, I engaged faculty in brief (three-to-five-minute) mindfulness practices that would easily fit into their busy lives, interweaving direct experience with summaries of research on the effects of different types of practices (see, for example, Kok & Singer, 2017). ...
Effective management of negative emotions in the workplace is critical for organizational success. While leaders may respond to negative emotions with empathy or compassion, evidence suggests that a compassionate focus may be more effective for managing negative emotions and promoting positive outcomes. In this set of 6 studies (combined N = 3,647 leaders, N = 1,006 followers), we introduce the Compassion-Empathy Leader Focus task, a novel situational-judgment task to index leaders' tendency to focus on sharing (empathy) or caring(compassion) when engaging with negative follower emotions. In studies 1-5 we provide initial evidence for the construct and predictive validity of our task and highlight the practical implications of a compassion focus for leader well-being. In study 6 we leveraged a diverse global sample of over 2,000 leaders and more than a thousand of their followers to show that a leader's compassion focus benefits not only the leader but their followers as well. Our research suggests that training programs for leaders should emphasize a compassion focus when managing negative emotions, as this approach is associated with improved outcomes for both leaders and followers. These findings have important implications for current issues in management, including the growing importance of employee well-being in the workplace.
Loving-kindness and compassion meditation (LKCM) have been well applied among employees to improve their health and well-being. Existing studies on LKCM have also provided supportive evidence of its benefits and effectiveness under organizational contexts. The current meta-analytical study aimed to systematically summarise the effects of LKCM in the workplace and to outline directions for future research and practice. Among 327 empirical studies on LKCM published until March 2022, 21 trials focussed on employees and provided sufficient information, which were included in the following meta-analysis. The results showed that LKCM benefited eight categories of workplace outcomes. Specifically, LKCM effectively decreased employees' burnout (g = 0.395, k = 10) and stress (g = 0.544, k = 10) and facilitated their mindfulness (g = 0.558, k = 14), self-compassion (g = 0.646, k = 12), personal mental health (g = 0.308, k = 13), job attitudes (g = 0.283, k = 4), interpersonal relationships (g = 0.381, k = 12), and psychological resources (g = 0.406, k = 6). The results of moderation analyses further indicated that the participants' job type, gender, and the focus of LKCM might differentially fluctuate the magnitude of LKCM effects. To advance research and best practice, we finally pointed out several issues that deserve attention, such as long-term effects, underlying mechanisms, potential moderators, and outcomes or influential factors at the organizational level.
Research indicates that patients consider empathy as a key factor contributing to the quality-of-care. However, ambiguities in the definition of this multidimensional construct complicate definite conclusions to-date. Addressing the challenges in the literature, and using a hypothetical physician-patient interaction which explored patient-perceived differences between expressions of affective empathy, cognitive empathy, compassion and no empathy, this study aimed to test whether lay participants' evaluations of the quality-of-care depend on the type of empathic physician behavior, and on the physician's gender. We conducted a randomized web-based experiment using a 4 (type of empathy) by 2 (physician gender) between-subjects design. Empathy was subdivided into three concepts: first, affective empathy (i.e. feeling with someone); second, cognitive empathy (i.e. understanding); and third, compassion (i.e. feeling for someone and offering support). Perceived quality-of-care was the primary outcome. Compared with non-empathic interactions, quality-of-care was rated higher when physicians reacted cognitively empathic or compassionate (d = 0.71; 0.43 to 1.00 and d = 0.68; 0.38 to 0.98). No significant difference was found between affective empathy and no empathy (d = 0.13; -0.14 to 0.42). The physician's gender was not related with quality-of-care. Aspects of participants' personality but not their age, gender or the number of physician visits were associated with quality-of-care. No interactions were observed. In showing that patients rated quality-of-care higher when physician reactions were described as cognitively empathic and compassionate, as compared with affectively empathic or non-empathic, our findings refine views about the kinds of empathy that are important in patient care with implications for clinical practice, education and communication trainings.
Mindfulness and self-compassion practices and programs are evidence-based practices that have positive effects for HCPs as they can be used to build resilience and minimize burnout. Detailed examples and vignettes of the practices are provided. Implementing these practices in the individual, academic, and healthcare system have yielded positive results, but must be balanced with other factors. Knowing when and how to implement or use these programs and practices requires discernment.KeywordsMindfulnessHealthcare professionalsEmpathyMeditation
The development of social emotions such as compassion is crucial for successful social interactions as well as for the maintenance of mental and physical health, especially when confronted with distressing life events. Yet, the neural mechanisms supporting the training of these emotions are poorly understood. To study affective plasticity in healthy adults, we measured functional neural and subjective responses to witnessing the distress of others in a newly developed task (Socio-affective Video Task). Participants' initial empathic responses to the task were accompanied by negative affect and activations in the anterior insula and anterior medial cingulate cortex-a core neural network underlying empathy for pain. Whereas participants reacted with negative affect before training, compassion training increased positive affective experiences, even in response to witnessing others in distress. On the neural level, we observed that, compared with a memory control group, compassion training elicited activity in a neural network including the medial orbitofrontal cortex, putamen, pallidum, and ventral tegmental area-brain regions previously associated with positive affect and affiliation. Taken together, these findings suggest that the deliberate cultivation of compassion offers a new coping strategy that fosters positive affect even when confronted with the distress of others.
Neuroimaging has demonstrated that voluntary emotion regulation is effective in reducing amygdala activation to aversive stimuli during regulation. However, to date little is known about the sustainability of these neural effects once active emotion regulation has been terminated.
We addressed this issue by means of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in healthy female subjects. We performed an active emotion regulation task using aversive visual scenes (task 1) and a subsequent passive viewing task using the same stimuli (task 2). Here we demonstrate not only a significantly reduced amygdala activation during active regulation but also a sustained regulation effect on the amygdala in the subsequent passive viewing task. This effect was related to an immediate increase of amygdala signal in task 1 once active emotion regulation has been terminated: The larger this peak postregulation signal in the amygdala in task 1, the smaller the sustained regulation effect in task 2.
In summary, we found clear evidence that effects of voluntary emotion regulation extend beyond the period of active regulation. These findings are of importance for the understanding of emotion regulation in general, for disorders of emotion regulation and for psychotherapeutic interventions.
The issue of whether other animals have internally felt experiences has vexed animal behavioral science since its inception. Although most investigators remain agnostic on such contentious issues, there is now abundant experimental evidence indicating that all mammals have negatively and positively-valenced emotional networks concentrated in homologous brain regions that mediate affective experiences when animals are emotionally aroused. That is what the neuroscientific evidence indicates.
The relevant lines of evidence are as follows: 1) It is easy to elicit powerful unconditioned emotional responses using localized electrical stimulation of the brain (ESB); these effects are concentrated in ancient subcortical brain regions. Seven types of emotional arousals have been described; using a special capitalized nomenclature for such primary process emotional systems, they are SEEKING, RAGE, FEAR, LUST, CARE, PANIC/GRIEF and PLAY. 2) These brain circuits are situated in homologous subcortical brain regions in all vertebrates tested. Thus, if one activates FEAR arousal circuits in rats, cats or primates, all exhibit similar fear responses. 3) All primary-process emotional-instinctual urges, even ones as complex as social PLAY, remain intact after radical neo-decortication early in life; thus, the neocortex is not essential for the generation of primary-process emotionality. 4) Using diverse measures, one can demonstrate that animals like and dislike ESB of brain regions that evoke unconditioned instinctual emotional behaviors: Such ESBs can serve as ‘rewards’ and ‘punishments’ in diverse approach and escape/avoidance learning tasks. 5) Comparable ESB of human brains yield comparable affective experiences. Thus, robust evidence indicates that raw primary-process (i.e., instinctual, unconditioned) emotional behaviors and feelings emanate from homologous brain functions in all mammals (see Appendix S1), which are regulated by higher brain regions. Such findings suggest nested-hierarchies of BrainMind affective processing, with primal emotional functions being foundational for secondary-process learning and memory mechanisms, which interface with tertiary-process cognitive-thoughtful functions of the BrainMind.
Compassion has been suggested to be a strong motivator for prosocial behavior. While research has demonstrated that compassion training has positive effects on mood and health, we do not know whether it also leads to increases in prosocial behavior. We addressed this question in two experiments. In Experiment 1, we introduce a new prosocial game, the Zurich Prosocial Game (ZPG), which allows for repeated, ecologically valid assessment of prosocial behavior and is sensitive to the influence of reciprocity, helping cost, and distress cues on helping behavior. Experiment 2 shows that helping behavior in the ZPG increased in participants who had received short-term compassion training, but not in participants who had received short-term memory training. Interindividual differences in practice duration were specifically related to changes in the amount of helping under no-reciprocity conditions. Our results provide first evidence for the positive impact of short-term compassion training on prosocial behavior towards strangers in a training-unrelated task.
It has been argued that emotion, pain and cognitive control are functionally segregated in distinct subdivisions of the cingulate cortex. However, recent observations encourage a fundamentally different view. Imaging studies demonstrate that negative affect, pain and cognitive control activate an overlapping region of the dorsal cingulate--the anterior midcingulate cortex (aMCC). Anatomical studies reveal that the aMCC constitutes a hub where information about reinforcers can be linked to motor centres responsible for expressing affect and executing goal-directed behaviour. Computational modelling and other kinds of evidence suggest that this intimacy reflects control processes that are common to all three domains. These observations compel a reconsideration of the dorsal cingulate's contribution to negative affect and pain.
Although considerable research has shown the importance of social connection for physical health, little is known about the higher-level neurocognitive processes that link experiences of social connection or disconnection with health-relevant physiological responses. Here we review the key physiological systems implicated in the link between social ties and health and the neural mechanisms that may translate social experiences into downstream health-relevant physiological responses. Specifically, we suggest that threats to social connection may tap into the same neural and physiological 'alarm system' that responds to other critical survival threats, such as the threat or experience of physical harm. Similarly, experiences of social connection may tap into basic reward-related mechanisms that have inhibitory relationships with threat-related responding. Indeed, the neurocognitive correlates of social disconnection and connection may be important mediators for understanding the relationships between social ties and health.