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(Leiberg et al. 2011)

Article/Study Title: 
Short-term compassion training increases prosocial behavior in a newly developed prosocial game
DOI or Website Link:  10.1371/journal.pone.0017798
Publication: 
Authors:  
Leiberg, Susanne; Klimecki, Olga; Singer, Tania
Date:
   
Affiliation(s):  
Citation: 
Leiberg, Susanne; Klimecki, Olga; Singer, Tania (2011): Short-term compassion training increases prosocial behavior in a newly developed prosocial game. In: PloS one 6 (3), S. 1-10
Abstract:   
Compassion has been suggested to be a strong motivator for prosocial behavior. While research has demonstrated that compassion training has positive effects on mood and health, we do not know whether it also leads to increases in prosocial behavior. We addressed this question in two experiments. In Experiment 1, we introduce a new prosocial game, the Zurich Prosocial Game (ZPG), which allows for repeated, ecologically valid assessment of prosocial behavior and is sensitive to the influence of reciprocity, helping cost, and distress cues on helping behavior. Experiment 2 shows that helping behavior in the ZPG increased in participants who had received short-term compassion training, but not in participants who had received short-term memory training. Interindividual differences in practice duration were specifically related to changes in the amount of helping under no-reciprocity conditions. Our results provide first evidence for the positive impact of short-term compassion training on prosocial behavior towards strangers in a training-unrelated task.

Topic Area:
psychological research
Empathy was more or less just viewed as empathic concern/empathic distress. The prosocial aspect of empathy (which other authors call the sympathy) is here called compassion.

Benefits:
Compassion training increases prosocial behavior


Methods:
  • Loving-kindness-meditation taught in an eight hour session by a practitioner with 10 years of experience
  • The control group received a memory training taught by a trainer with 10 years of experience.
Target Group:  
To measure changes in empathy behavior in the Zürich prosocial game was measured as well as Davis (IRI) applied.

Result:
Short-term compassion training increased prosocial behavior.


Posted By:  
 Sascha Bosetzky
Notes: 
An interesting fact is, that is the Zürich prosocial game is basically the form of Pac-Man - a game from the stone age of video games. During the game people had to make choices whether to help an anonymous co-player and loose time and chances to win the game or to pursue one's own goal without helping. The short term compassion training obviously made a difference in the game.

References:
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