Fear leads to suffering: Fears of compassion predict restriction of the moral boundary
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AbstractEmpirical investigations into the psychological drivers of more or less expansive moral thinking are lacking from the psychological literature. One potential driver that warrants deeper investigation is compassion – a prosocial motivation to both identity and alleviate suffering. The current research examined the extent to which compassion, and fears of compassion, act as a driver and inhibitor, respectively, of a morally expansive mindset. We tested these associations across three studies (N = 749) and found robust support for our predictions. Specifically, stronger compassion to others, and greater fears of extending compassion to others, were linked to enhanced and reduced moral expansiveness, respectively. Moreover, over and above empathy and mindfulness, fears of compassion and compassion uniquely predicted moral expansiveness. Finally, compassion was found to consistently mediate the relationship between fears of compassion to others and moral expansiveness. Our findings further our understanding of the psychological factors that may drive and restrict morally expansive mindsets and hold implications for the broader domains of moral decision-making and prosocial motivation as well as the application of practices that are designed to facilitate a compassionate mindset (e.g., Compassionate Mind Training).
CitationCrimston, C. R., Blessing, S., Gilbert, P., & Kirby, J. N. (2021). 'Fear leads to suffering: Fears of compassion predict restriction of the moral boundary'. British journal of social psychology, pp. 1-39.
JournalBritish Journal of Social Psychology
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