Monday, October 18, 2010

Project Compassion

This past Friday the Dalai Lama came to Stanford for a colloquium called "Compassion, Science and Technology."  CCARE and Project Compassion presented research projects in a format much like sharing there findings with the Dalai Lama in his living room, but in front of 1500 or so people.  In my upcoming foray into research, the following findings and determinations will inform the design:  (a) in education modeling provides a methodology for teaching compassion and (b) we can experience a cognitive reappraisal of emotion that circumvents the "feeling" aspect of empathy to generate a direct pathway to compassionate behavior. 

I believe that in order to bring compassion and altruism into our daily conversation, we must integrate these prosocial ways of relating into the all-pervasive media we utilize every day.  In this way, our habitual behaviors become a way to strengthen our mental acumen towards a more positive dynamic.  Eventually, this overrides the standard goal-oriented (attachment-based) mentality in favor of a shared view of humanity.  Several possibilities exists for digital media based compassion potentiation.  Paralleling techniques for school curriculum, we can use the concept of modeling (in combination with using models that individuals wish to emulate) to change behavior.  People watching instances of selfless acts, generous moments, etc. enacted by models of similar status may follow those behaviors.  Similarly, priming for compassionate action is also an available role for digital media.

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