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Can you measure compassion?
May 8, 2018

Erik Keller
Core Spirit member since Dec 24, 2020
Reading time less than 1 minute

In a new paper, scientists have suggested a scale for measuring the Buddhist virtues of loving-kindness and compassion.

Loving-kindness (fondness or goodwill for others and oneself) and empathy (empathetic care for somebody who’s suffering, and motivation to aid them) are brought together in the analysis as a single quality.

For the study, published in the April issue of the journal Personality and Individual Differences, researchers interviewed two monks and three priests from the Theravada convention to make an expression of loving-kindness empathy, they recognize as being touched by a individual’s suffering, desiring to aid them and wishing them happiness.

Researchers then divide the scale to subsections including self-compassion, compassionate love, social connectedness, empathy, and satisfaction with life.

During the analysis, 469 psychology students were asked to suggest how much they identified with every thing from a scale of one (not in any manner true for me personally) to five (very true for me). From the results, the researchers deduced three general variables of loving-kindness empathy: loving-kindness, compassion, and self-centeredness.

Hyunju Cho, one of the writers of the study, says self-centeredness is vital for understanding loving-kindness compassion as it is the opposite of universality – the concept that all things are connected.

“We easily have a tendency to be self-centered. Therefore, understanding self-centeredness is important to initiate the mindset of loving-kindness compassion via practicing loving-kindness and compassion meditation.”

Researchers expect the Loving-kindness Compassion Scale helps people see loving-kindness and compassion as approaches to examine our relationship with different people.

The investigators acknowledge that the analysis has many constraints. Mainly, all 469 participants were established in South Korea, in which there’s a strong culture of interdependence, potentially influencing the participants’ view on universality and other aspects of loving-kindness empathy.

The scale contrasts with a 2008 analysis, from Fort Lewis College, in Colorado, which suggests it’s possible to measure each of four immeasurables (loving-kindness, compassion, joy, and acceptance of self and others). That study concluded that practicing loving-kindness and compassion meditation may enhance social connectedness and enhance the neural networks that affect compassion.

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