Living Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences

pp 1-3

Date: Latest Version


  • Thomas G. PlanteAffiliated withSanta Clara UniversityStanford University School of Medicine Email author 


Care; Concern; Empathy; Kindness; Leniency; Love; Mercy; Sensitivity; Solicitude; Sympathy; Tenderness; Tolerance; Warmth


“…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 positive ...

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