Thursday, January 21, 2010

Studies show compassion is a human instinct

Dacher Keltner, Ph.D., professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, says that contrary to long-standing assertions that humans are inherently self-serving, new evidence suggests that we’re actually wired to be compassionate. Studies conducted by a number of preeminent specialists and universities demonstrate measurable responses in the human anatomy including changes in brainwaves, oxytocin levels, and non-verbal communication, suggesting that, “Compassion is deeply rooted in human nature; it has a biological basis in the brain and body.” Certain parenting styles help the behavior along, particularly what the psychological community calls, “inductive parenting,” in which parents encourage children to consider the reasons why they have done harm and the kinds of effects their behavior has on others. “Parents can teach compassion by example,” Keltner says, explaining, “Human communities are only as healthy as our conceptions of human nature.”


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