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date: 13 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Why does compassion appear to have disparate associations with helping, emotions, and well-being? One possibility is that, while compassion always elicits a desire to help others, it only sometimes leads to commitment to that goal. Drawing on the action-phase model of goal pursuit, I propose that compassion has the most beneficial outcomes for those in need and for potential helpers in the presence of factors that drive commitment to helping goals. Among those factors are implementation intentions with respect to helping goals, readily perceived means for helping, and perceiving that one has passed a point of no return (a.k.a. a “Rubicon”) with respect to helping goals. Research on this model may reveal with more specificity compassion’s true role in social life.

Keywords: compassion, goal commitment, helping goals, action-phase model, mindsets, implementation intentions, self-protection, Rubicon

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