Compassionate Love in a Relational Context

Compassionate Love in a Relational Context

This project currently supports research efforts chosen through a Fetzer Institute Request for Proposals (RFP) titled: Compassionate Love in a Relational Context. The overall program supports the Fetzer InstituteǃÙs continuing commitment to encourage rigorous research in the scientific study of compassionate love.

The program began in 2001 with an RFP that supported research on the conceptualization, measurement, and consequences of compassionate love in a variety of fields and relationships. In partnership with the Templeton Foundation and the Institute for Research on Unlimited Love, the initial round of support funded more than 30 research studies.

This second RFP was issued in the fall of 2008 and was designed to
  • Increase knowledge through basic and applied research on the antecedents (e.g., developmental factors), maintenance (e.g., factors that facilitate the expression of compassionate love in relationships), and consequences of compassionate love in relationships (e.g., effects on self-esteem, personal growth, relationship quality)
  • Further develop and refine conceptual approaches, methodological tools, and measurement instruments
  • Devise and test interventions aimed at developing the human capacity to love and be compassionate
  • Encourage new researchers from various fields and disciplines
  • Provide additional support for ongoing research on compassionate love

Fetzer received 233 Letters of Intent under the RFP, and 52 applicants were invited to submit full proposals. After a review process that included both external reviewers and an RFP advisory group, nine projects were selected for funding.


Compassionate Love for Members of Other Groups: Deepening Basic Knowledge and Developing Real-World Interventions

Arthur Aron, PhD, Stony Brook University, New York
Stephen Wright, PhD, Simon Fraser University
Jennifer Eberhardt, PhD, Stanford University
Richard Slatcher, PhD, UCLA research site PI

Four multi-site studies will build on previous research of a program to encourage cross-group friendships and examine its effects, identify mechanisms, and develop real-world interventions, including applications between police and neighborhoods in major urban areas.

Physiological and Neural Underpinning of Compassionate Caregiving in Couples
Nancy L. Collins, PhD, University of California Santa Barbara

The physiological and neural processing dynamics of compassionate caregiving to a loved one in need, linking attachment style differences in caregiving behavior and physiological reactivity to the partnerǃÙs emotional distress.

Compassionate Love in Dating and Marital Relationships: Disentangling the Quadrumvirate
Beverley Fehr, PhD, University of Winnipeg

Similarities and differences between compassionate love and three other primary kinds of love (romantic love, attachment love, companionate love/liking) in dating and marital relationships.

The Psychophysiology of Mothersǃ٠Compassionate Love and ChildrenǃÙs Pro-social Development
Paul Hastings, PhD, University of California Davis

Psychophysiological mechanisms by which maternal compassionate love generates the capacity in their young children to develop pro-social behavior and empathic concern for others.

Compassionate Love and Its Relationship to Health Behavior, Disease Progression, and Ten-Year Mortality in People with HIV
Gail Ironson, MD, and Heidemarie Kremer, MD, University of Miami

The expression of compassionate love and its relationship to HIV disease progression and survival.

Growing Old Together: Compassionate Love and Well-Being in Older Adulthood
Amy Rauer, PhD, Auburn University

To examine the nature of compassionate love in intimate relationships in older adults and explore how compassionate love may promote both partnersǃ٠health in a normative population of older adults in close relationships.

Everyday Acts of Compassionate Love in Dyadic Context
Harry T. Reis, PhD, University of Rochester

To examine the expression of compassionate love in everyday acts of kindness in committed couples, the role of shared perspectives, mutuality in responsiveness, and implicit evaluations of the other, with their effect on relational and personal well being.

Can Security Enhancing Interventions Overcome Barriers to Compassion in Couple, Peer, and Intergroup Relationships?
Phil Shaver, PhD, University of California Davis
Mario Mikulincer, PhD, Bar-Ilan University, Israel

To extend previous work on attachment security and its relationship to compassion and compassionate love for all humanity, examining the effects of security priming on compassionate love within three different relational contexts: romantic relationships, small groups, and intergroup interactions.¨Ü ¨Ü

The Influence of Compassionate Love in Adolescent-Parent Relationships
Judith G. Smetana, PhD, University of Rochester

To examine the role of parental compassionate love toward their adolescents to achieve an appropriate balance between autonomy-granting, caring, and control and its influence on adolescentsǃ٠psychosocial adjustment and family relationships.

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