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date: 15 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores the empirical roots of compassion science and the schools of thought that gave rise to the idea that compassion may be good for health. We review the evidence that suggests that those who help others are healthier and live longer than those who do not help others, and we highlight stress-buffering and compassionate motivation as mechanisms for this effect. We describe emerging models that connect compassion to physical health using neurobiology, and we review Numan’s (2006) animal model of parental behavior as the basis for predictions about specific areas of the brain, neuropeptides, and hormones that are hypothesized to interact to produce health benefits associated with helping others. We conclude with a discussion of the implications of compassionate neurobiology for medical research, mental health, and behavioral intervention.

Keywords: reciprocal altruism, altruism, kin selection, social bond, motivation, selective investment theory, caregiving, stress-regulation

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