Thursday, February 03, 2011

Dedication Begets Dedication Revisited

Last year I mentioned how dedication towards one person, say a child with special needs, increases dedication towards others. Meaning, our ability to sacrifice doesn't burn out, it strengthens. Here's an experiment that supports this idea:
The ability of compassion felt toward one person to reduce punishment directed at another was examined. The use of a staged interaction in which one individual cheats to earn higher compensation than others resulted in heightened third-party punishment being directed at the cheater. However, among participants who were induced to feel compassion toward a separate individual, punishment of the cheater disappeared even though the cheater clearly intended to cheat and showed no remorse for doing so. Moreover, additional analyses revealed that the reduction in punishment was directly mediated by the amount of compassion participants experienced toward the separate individual.
I feel like there is an important religious lesson here.

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