Compassion is the emotion one experiences when feeling concern for another's suffering and desiring to enhance that individual's welfare. It is different from empathy, which refers to the mirroring or understanding of another's response; from pity, which refers to feelings of concern for someone weaker than the self; and from agape, which refers to the love of humanity.


Across numerous ethical and spiritual traditions, compassion is considered a cardinal virtue. During the age of enlightenment, philosophers argued that some force—compassion—bound people together in cooperative communities. Social psychologists have largely concerned themselves with a few questions concerning compassion. A first occurs within the altruism debate: Does compassion motivate altruistic behavior? A second question finds its relevance within the study of emotion: Is compassion an emotion? A third ...

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