Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences

Editors: Virgil Zeigler-Hill, Todd K. Shackelford


Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-28099-8_1055-1



“…being moved by another’s suffering and wanting to help” (Lazarus 1991, p. 289). Compassion is a tendency to attend to the challenges of others, to feel empathy, sympathy, and sorrow for another who is experiencing difficulties and misfortune, and the desire to assist in alleviating their distress in solidarity with them.


Compassion has become an important topic for research investigation with more and more quality empirical studies being conducted and published that examine compassion development in people and the positive outcomes of a more compassionate community and society. While compassion has often historically been highlighted among those engaged in research in religion and spirituality, the positive psychology movement has contributed a body of research in recent years toward the operational definition, development, and...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access


  1. Armstrong, K. (2010). The great transformation: The beginning of our religious traditions. New York: Anchor Books.Google Scholar
  2. Darwin, C. (1871). The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. New York: Appleton & Company.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Goetz, J. L., Keltner, D., & Simon-Thomas, E. (2010). Compassion: An evolutionary analysis and empirical review. Psychological Bulletin, 136, 351–374.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  4. Horsburg, D., & Ross, J. (2013). Care and compassion: The experiences of newly qualified staff nurses. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 22, 1124–1132. doi:10.1111/jocn.12141.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Hwang, J. Y., Plante, T. G., & Lackey, K. (2008). The development of the Santa Clara brief compassion scale: An abbreviation of Sprecher and Fehr’s compassionate love scale. Pastoral Psychology, 56, 421–428.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Lazarus, R. (1991). Emotion and adaptation. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Mongrain, M., Chin, J. M., & Shapira, L. B. (2011). Practicing compassion increases happiness and self-esteem. Journal of Happiness Studies, 12(6), 963–981.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Plante, T. G., & Mejia, J. (2016). Psychometric properties of the Santa Clara brief compassion scale. Pastoral Psychology, 65(4), 509–515.Google Scholar
  9. Plante, T. G., Lackey, K., & Hwang, J. (2009). The impact of immersion trips on development of compassion among college students. Journal of Experiential Education, 32, 28–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Shiota, M. N., Keltner, D., & John, O. P. (2006). Positive emotion dispositions differentially associated with Big Five personality and attachment style. Journal of Positive Psychology, 1, 61–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Simon-Thomas, E. R., Godzik, J., Castle, E., Antonenko, O., Ponz, A., Kogan, A., & Keltner, D. J. (2012). An fMRI study of caring vs self-focus during induced compassion and pride. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 7(6), 635–648.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Sprecher, S., & Fehr, B. (2005). Compassionate love for close others and humanity. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 22, 629–651. doi:10.1177/0265407505056439.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Stewart, D. W. (2012). Compassion fatigue: What is the level among army chaplains? Journal of Workplace Behavioral Health, 27, 1–11. doi:10.1080/15555240.2012.640574.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Santa Clara UniversitySanta ClaraUSA
  2. 2.Stanford University School of MedicineStanfordUSA