Compassion Is Contagious

The ability of compassion felt toward one person to reduce punishment directed at another was examined. The use of a staged interaction in which one individual cheats to earn higher compensation than others resulted in heightened third-party punishment being directed at the cheater. However, among participants who were induced to feel compassion toward a separate individual, punishment of the cheater disappeared even though the cheater clearly intended to cheat and showed no remorse for doing so. Moreover, additional analyses revealed that the reduction in punishment was directly mediated by the amount of compassion participants experienced toward the separate individual.

Source: “Compassion for one reduces punishment for another” from Journal of Experimental Social Psychology

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