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date: 07 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Recent years have seen a growth of interest in contemplative approaches to cultivating compassionate responses to suffering. This chapter draws on contemporary research from cognitive, affective, and social psychology to provide an introduction to the field of compassion training. We consider what constitutes compassion training and offer a summary of current meditation-based approaches. We then provide an overview of the empirical evidence for a relationship between compassion training and changes in socioemotional processes, prosocial behavior, and physiological stress responses to the perception of others’ suffering. We further address challenges in interpreting data from these studies, considering potential training-related mechanisms of change and how compassion-relevant processes might develop over time. Lastly, we conclude by outlining key theoretical challenges for future research.

Keywords: meditation, compassion, training, contemplative practice, responses to suffering, emotion

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