What Is Compassion in Social Psychology?


Jane Flores

Compassion is a complex and multifaceted concept that has been studied extensively in social psychology. At its core, compassion involves feeling concern for the suffering of others and a desire to alleviate that suffering. In this article, we will explore the different facets of compassion and its role in social psychology.

What is Compassion?

Compassion is often described as a feeling of empathy or sympathy towards someone who is experiencing pain or suffering. It involves a willingness to help others and an understanding of their situation. Compassion can be directed towards individuals or groups, and can be expressed in many different ways.

Facets of Compassion

Compassion has several facets, including cognitive, emotional, behavioral, and motivational components.

  • Cognitive: This facet involves understanding the nature of another person’s suffering. It requires empathy and the ability to see things from another person’s perspective.
  • Emotional: The emotional component of compassion involves feeling moved by another person’s suffering.

    This may involve feelings of sadness, sympathy, or empathy.

  • Behavioral: Compassion also encompasses behaviors that are aimed at alleviating another person’s suffering. These behaviors may include providing comfort, support, or assistance.
  • Motivational: Finally, compassion includes a motivational component that drives individuals to take action to help others. This may involve volunteering time or resources to assist those in need.

The Benefits of Compassion

Compassion has been linked to numerous benefits for both individuals and society as a whole. Research has shown that acts of compassion can lead to increased happiness and well-being for both the giver and receiver.

In addition to these personal benefits, compassion can also have positive effects on society as a whole. Compassionate individuals are more likely to engage in prosocial behaviors, such as volunteering, donating to charity, and helping others in need. These behaviors can help to build stronger communities and promote social cohesion.

Compassion Fatigue

While compassion is generally viewed as a positive emotion, it is important to recognize the potential for compassion fatigue. This occurs when individuals become overwhelmed by the suffering of others and feel unable to continue providing support or assistance.

To avoid compassion fatigue, it is important to practice self-care and set boundaries when engaging in acts of compassion. This may involve taking breaks from volunteer work or seeking support from others when feeling overwhelmed.


Compassion is a complex and multifaceted concept that plays an important role in social psychology. By understanding the different facets of compassion and its benefits, we can work towards building stronger communities and promoting social cohesion. However, it is important to recognize the potential for compassion fatigue and practice self-care when engaging in acts of compassion.