Training: Papers‎ > ‎

(Weng+ 2013)

Article/Study Title:  Compassion training alters altruism and neural responses to suffering
DOI or Website Link:  10.1177/0956797612469537

  1. Weng, Helen Y.; 
  2. Fox, Andrew S.; 
  3. Shackman, Alexander J.; 
  4.  Stodola, Diane E.; 
  5. Caldwell, Jessica Z. K.; 
  6. Olson, Matthew C. et al.
Weng, Helen Y.; Fox, Andrew S.; Shackman, Alexander J.; Stodola, Diane E.; Caldwell, Jessica Z. K.; Olson, Matthew C. et al. (2013): Compassion training alters altruism and neural responses to suffering. In: Psychological Science 24 (7), S. 1171-80


Compassion is a key motivator of altruistic behavior, but little is known about individuals' capacity to cultivate compassion through training. We examined whether compassion may be systematically trained by testing whether
  •  (a) short-term compassion training increases altruistic behavior and 
  • (b) individual differences in altruism are associated with training-induced changes in neural responses to suffering.
 In healthy adults, we found that compassion training increased altruistic redistribution of funds to a victim encountered outside of the training context. Furthermore, increased altruistic behavior after compassion training was associated with altered activation in brain regions implicated in social cognition and emotion regulation, including the inferior parietal cortex and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), and in DLPFC connectivity with the nucleus accumbens. 

These results suggest that compassion can be cultivated with training and that greater altruistic behavior may emerge from increased engagement of neural systems implicated in understanding the suffering of other people, executive and emotional control, and reward processing.

Topic Area:
 (In which field / sector / perspective was this study conducted?)


Training is supposed to increase prosocial behavior

  • Experiential
  • Participants listened to 30-minute audio recordings featuring compassion meditation

Target Group:  
(Who participated in this study / training?)
  • Adults

About the assessment: How was the change in empathy measured before/after the intervention/method?) 

Result:(What was the result?)
  • Compassion meditation increased altruistic behavior and activity in brain regions supporting social cognition and emotion regulation (WEISZ 2016)*

Posted By:
Sascha Bosetzky
The poster hasn't read the article yet.