Izzy Gainsburg

September 07, 2022

2:00 p.m. ET

This event is for invited researchers only.

Scholar presenter:

Izzy Gainsburg, University of Michigan

Seed generators:

Rellie Derfler-Rozin, University of Maryland

Maryam Kouchaki, Northwestern University


Limited compassion mindsets: Theory, Findings, and Future Directions

Talk description:

People’s compassion often behaves like a limited resource. In some cases, people’s compassion response often weakens with repeated exposure to suffering, a phenomenon known as compassion fatigue. In other cases, people conserve their feelings of compassion for some people or causes they care about, at the cost of others. Why does compassion sometimes appear to be limited in these situations? In today’s presentation, I suggest that people’s mindsets about compassion as a limited resource result in a self-fulfilling prophecy that reinforces compassion’s limits. I then review research showing that there is variability in people’s compassion mindsets, that these mindsets can be altered through information supporting one view or the other, and that limited-compassion mindsets are associated with a host of downstream consequences, including concerns about compassion tradeoffs, lower moral expansiveness, decreased feelings of compassion, more fatigue, and lower quality social support. This research identifies a novel factor influencing feelings of compassion and supports the idea that people’s beliefs about the nature of emotions affect how emotions are experienced.

Research is the heart of Positive Organizational Scholarship (POS), and we want to make sure that we support each other in developing high quality research. To that end, we created the Adderley Positive Research Incubator for sharing and encouraging POS-related research ideas that are at various stages of development.

Learn more about the Adderley Positive Research Incubators here and direct questions about individual sessions to cpo-events@umich.edu.