The relationship of dispositional compassion with well-being: a study with a 15-year prospective follow-up

Aino I.L. Saarinen, Liisa Keltikangas-Järvinen, Laura Pulkki-Råback, Claude Robert Cloninger, Marko Elovainio, Terho Lehtimäki, Olli Raitakari, Mirka Hintsanen

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    Abstract

    We investigated the associations of individual’s compassion for others with his/her affective and cognitive well-being over a long-term follow-up. We used data from the prospective Young Finns Study (N = 1312‒1699) between 1997‒2012. High compassion was related to higher indicators of affective well-being: higher positive affect (B = 0.221, p < .001), lower negative affect (B = −0.358, p < .001), and total score of affective well-being (the relationship of positive versus negative affect) (B = 0.345, p < .001). Moreover, high compassion was associated with higher indicators of cognitive well-being: higher social support (B = 0.194, p < .001), life satisfaction (B = 0.149, p < .001), subjective health (B = 0.094, p < .001), optimism (B = 0.307, p < .001), and total score of cognitive well-being (B = 0.265, p < .001). Longitudinal analyses showed that high compassion predicted higher affective well-being over a 15-year follow-up (B = 0.361, p < .001) and higher social support over a 10-year follow-up (B = 0.230, p < .001). Finally, compassion was more likely to predict well-being (B = [−0.076; 0.090]) than vice versa, even though the predictive relationships were rather modest by magnitude.

    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of Positive Psychology
    DOIs
    StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019

    Keywords

    • Compassion
    • happiness
    • longitudinal
    • personality
    • well-being

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    Saarinen, A. I. L., Keltikangas-Järvinen, L., Pulkki-Råback, L., Cloninger, C. R., Elovainio, M., Lehtimäki, T., Raitakari, O., & Hintsanen, M. (Accepted/In press). The relationship of dispositional compassion with well-being: a study with a 15-year prospective follow-up. Journal of Positive Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1080/17439760.2019.1663251