Compassion Can Be Cultivated: Teaching People to Act Altruistically

Can people be taught to act more altruistically? Newly published research, measuring both brain activity and behavior, suggests the answer just may be yes.


“Our findings support the possibility that compassion and altruism can be viewed as trainable skills rather than stable traits,” a research team led by Richard J. Davidsonand Helen Weng of the University of Wisconsin-Madison writes in the journal Psychological Science.


Specifically, they report that taking a course in compassion leads to increased engagement of certain neural systems, which prompts higher levels of altruistic behavior.


By Tom Jacobs