Browsing Human Sciences Research Centre by Subjects
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Facial expressions depicting compassionate and critical emotions: the development and validation of a new emotional face stimulus setAttachment with altruistic others requires the ability to appropriately process affiliative and kind facial cues. Yet there is no stimulus set available to investigate such processes. Here, we developed a stimulus set depicting compassionate and critical facial expressions, and validated its effectiveness using well-established visual-probe methodology. In Study 1, 62 participants rated photographs of actors displaying compassionate/kind and critical faces on strength of emotion type. This produced a new stimulus set based on N = 31 actors, whose facial expressions were reliably distinguished as compassionate, critical and neutral. In Study 2, 70 participants completed a visual-probe task measuring attentional orientation to critical and compassionate/kind faces. This revealed that participants lower in self-criticism demonstrated enhanced attention to compassionate/kind faces whereas those higher in self-criticism showed no bias. To sum, the new stimulus set produced interpretable findings using visual-probe methodology and is the first to include higher order, complex positive affect displays.
Psychological and physiological effects of compassionate mind training: A pilot randomised controlled studyThe development of the compassionate self, associated with practices such as slow and deeper breathing, compassionate voice tones and facial expressions and compassionate focusing is central to Compassion Focused Therapy. This study explores the impact of a two-week Compassionate Mind Training (CMT) program on emotional, self-evaluative and psychopathology measures and on heart rate variability (HRV). Participants (general population and college students) were randomly assigned to one of two conditions: CMT (n=56) and Wait-List Control (n=37). Participants in the CMTcondition were instructed to practice CMT exercises during two weeks. Self-report measures of compassion, positive affect, fears of compassion, self-criticism, shame, depression, anxiety and stress, and HRV were collected at pre and post intervention in both conditions. Compared to the control group, the experimental group showed significant increases in positive emotions, associated with feeling relaxed and also safe and content, but not activated; and in self-compassion, compassion for others and compassion from others. There were significant reductions in shame, self-criticism, fears of compassion, and stress. Only the experimental group reported significant improvement in HRV. Developing awareness of the evolved nature and inherent difficulties of our minds allied with practicing CMT exercises has beneficial effects on participants' psychological and physiological well-being.