Study Shows that Women's Compassion for Others Benefits the SelfAugust
18th, 2010 in Medicine & Health / Psychology & Psychiatry

(PhysOrg.com) -- The Dalai Lama holds that compassion -- concern for the
well-being of others -- leads to happiness. Now a new study has found
that compassion may also have health benefits in the form of stress
reduction for women.

The study involving 59 women found that those who demonstrated high
levels of compassion for others were more receptive to social support,
enabling them to better handle acute psychological stress and maintain
overall well-being, according to psychologists at the University of
Maine, University of California - Berkeley and University of California
- San Francisco.

The higher the women's compassion, the lower their blood pressure
and cortisol levels, and the higher their beneficial heart rate
variability when an emotionally stressful task was buffered by social
support -- smiling, nodding and encouraging words -- offered by another
person. When the same stressor was not buffered by social support, women
experienced significant increases in blood pressure and cortisol,
regardless of their individual levels of compassion.

The research demonstrates that concern for the well-being of others
does, indeed, benefit the self. By increasing the effectiveness of
social support, compassion served a stress reduction function for women
in the study.

The research findings by graduate student Brandon Cosley and
psychologist Shannon McCoy at UMaine; Laura Saslow at UC-Berkeley; and
Elissa Epel at UC-San Francisco were published in the Journal of
Experimental Social Psychology

Provided by University of Maine

"Study Shows that Women's Compassion for Others Benefits the Self."
August 18th, 2010. www.physorg.com/news201365891.html

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