The following is excerpted from an online article posted by MedicalXpress.
When teens feel a sense of belonging and being cared for, they are more likely to show compassion for others, according to a study led by Blake Colaianne, assistant research professor at Penn State’s Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center.
“We wanted to know whether students who felt as though others cared for them and were cheering for them would be more likely to internalize that care and then give it away to others,” Colaianne said. “Interestingly, we found that the students who felt a sense of belonging were more likely to show compassion toward others.”
For the study, 599 students attending a high school in western Pennsylvania completed surveys at the beginning, middle, and end of the school year. The surveys focused on their sense of being cared for and connected to others and whether they thought they showed compassion—defined by researchers as the specific motivation to understand and lessen others’ suffering—by the end of the school year. The findings were published in the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology.
Colaianne said this research has implications for how high schools think about creating compassionate school environments beyond providing opportunities for volunteering or donating.