Positive and negative attitudes towards compassion predict compassionate outcomes

James N. Kirby*, Emma Seppälä, Matti Wilks, C. Daryl Cameron, Cassandra L. Tellegen, Dong T.H. Nguyen, Supriya Misra, Emiliana Simon-Thomas, Matthew Feinberg, Daniel Martin, James Doty

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Compassion is multifaceted in both expression and motivation. It is influenced by a range of contextual and situational factors. This study aims to investigate how positive and negative attitudes towards compassion are associated with the presentation of compassionate outcomes. In particular, we examined how positive attitudes towards compassion (compassion satisfaction) and negative attitudes towards compassion (fears of compassion) can influence the presentation of compassion-related emotions, self-reported measures of empathy, compassion and compassionate behavior. Across two studies, positive attitudes toward compassion were robustly related to all three factors: emotions, self-reported expression, and compassionate behaviors. Similarly, negative attitudes toward compassion were related to emotions and self-reported expression, but not to compassionate behavior. The relationship was the strongest for fears of compassion for others. These results highlight the important role that attitudes play in facilitating or inhibiting compassionate outcomes. Implications and future directions are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4884-4894
Number of pages11
JournalCurrent psychology
Issue number10
Early online date3 Sept 2019
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Attitudes
  • Compassion
  • Empathy
  • Fears of compassion


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