Does Meditation Lead to Compassion? A New York Times Op-Ed References Research by CMC’s Piercarlo Valdesolo

Does meditation lead to compassion? The question was posed in a New York Times op-ed by professor of psychology David DeSteno, who wrote that while “meditation is fast becoming a fashionable tool for improving your mind,” it originated as a tool to end suffering, by helping its practitioners “see the world in a new and more compassionate way.”

DeSteno directs the Social Emotions Group at Northeastern University and has written about moral hypocrisy with CMC Assistant Professor of Psychology Piercarlo Valdesolo. In a recent experiment (findings are forthcoming in the journal Psychological Science), DeSteno and colleagues wanted to know whether participants who meditated would exhibit greater compassion in instances of suffering.

His op-ed in Sunday’s New York Times references his research with Valdesolo: “[We] have found that any marker of affiliation between two people, even something as subtle as tapping their hands together in synchrony, causes them to feel more compassion for each other when distressed.”

[Read the full piece, The Morality of Meditation.]

This past spring, Valdesolo was identified by the Association for Psychological Science as a “Rising Star,” a designation placing him among an impressive cohort of individuals who, in the early stages of their careers, are conducting “groundbreaking psychological science.”

Valdesolo oversees the Moral Emotions and Trust Lab at CMC, where students study how emotions and non-conscious processes influence judgments of equity, justice, and harm as well as the tendency to engage in antisocial or prosocial behavior.