Research Topic

Expanding the Science of Compassion

About this Research Topic

The study of compassion has theoretical paradoxes. Some models emphasize a basic instinct resting on the evolved capacity of humans to empathize and care for one another. Meanwhile, other computational models derived from contemporary brain science argue that compassion is a value-driven choice evaluated against other self-serving goals.

In recent years, neural pathways associated with empathic concern and altruistic helping have been identified. Biological markers operating in the periphery and available for modulation have also been delineated. Other conceptualizations emphasize the experience of the self as an interconnected entity valuing the greater good over self-serving goals. These different windows into the phenomenon of compassion have important implications for the development of interventions aimed at promoting compassionate responding on both an individual and social level.

In this Research Topic, our goal is to examine the roots of compassion and its underlying mechanisms from a variety of perspectives. The contributors are welcome to provide original research and commentaries adding to our understanding of this phenomenon as well as its salutary effects on physiological, psychological and social functioning. Factors mitigating prosocial action, as well as the contexts, and individual difference variables relevant to prosocial and empathic responding can also be included.

The authors will be encouraged to extrapolate from their work and propose new ways of helping individuals prioritize communal values and the welfare of others. This is particularly relevant and timely in an expanding digitized world where human beings will need an antidote to their suffering and ways to reconnect with one another.


Keywords: compassion, helping, prosociality, prosocial behavior, altruism, prosocial action, empathy


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

The study of compassion has theoretical paradoxes. Some models emphasize a basic instinct resting on the evolved capacity of humans to empathize and care for one another. Meanwhile, other computational models derived from contemporary brain science argue that compassion is a value-driven choice evaluated against other self-serving goals.

In recent years, neural pathways associated with empathic concern and altruistic helping have been identified. Biological markers operating in the periphery and available for modulation have also been delineated. Other conceptualizations emphasize the experience of the self as an interconnected entity valuing the greater good over self-serving goals. These different windows into the phenomenon of compassion have important implications for the development of interventions aimed at promoting compassionate responding on both an individual and social level.

In this Research Topic, our goal is to examine the roots of compassion and its underlying mechanisms from a variety of perspectives. The contributors are welcome to provide original research and commentaries adding to our understanding of this phenomenon as well as its salutary effects on physiological, psychological and social functioning. Factors mitigating prosocial action, as well as the contexts, and individual difference variables relevant to prosocial and empathic responding can also be included.

The authors will be encouraged to extrapolate from their work and propose new ways of helping individuals prioritize communal values and the welfare of others. This is particularly relevant and timely in an expanding digitized world where human beings will need an antidote to their suffering and ways to reconnect with one another.


Keywords: compassion, helping, prosociality, prosocial behavior, altruism, prosocial action, empathy


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

01 June 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

01 June 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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