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      Ways of Knowing Compassion: How Do We Come to Know, Understand, and Measure Compassion When We See It?

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          Abstract

          Over the last decade, empirical research on compassion has burgeoned in the biomedical, clinical, translational, and foundational sciences. Increasingly sophisticated understandings and measures of compassion continue to emerge from the abundance of multidisciplinary and cross-disciplinary studies. Naturally, the diversity of research methods and theoretical frameworks employed presents a significant challenge to consensus and synthesis of this knowledge. To bring the empirical findings of separate and sometimes siloed disciplines into conversation with one another requires an examination of their disparate assumptions about what compassion is and how it can be known. Here, we present an integrated theoretical review of methodologies used in the empirical study of compassion. Our goal is to highlight the distinguishing features of each of these ways of knowing compassion, as well as the strengths and limitations of applying them to specific research questions. We hope this will provide useful tools for selecting methods that are tailored to explicit objectives (methods matching), taking advantage of methodological complementarity across disciplines (methods mixing), and incorporating the empirical study of compassion into fields in which it may be missing.

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          Whatever happened to qualitative description?

          The general view of descriptive research as a lower level form of inquiry has influenced some researchers conducting qualitative research to claim methods they are really not using and not to claim the method they are using: namely, qualitative description. Qualitative descriptive studies have as their goal a comprehensive summary of events in the everyday terms of those events. Researchers conducting qualitative descriptive studies stay close to their data and to the surface of words and events. Qualitative descriptive designs typically are an eclectic but reasonable combination of sampling, and data collection, analysis, and re-presentation techniques. Qualitative descriptive study is the method of choice when straight descriptions of phenomena are desired. Copyright 2000 John Wiley & Sons,
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            Measuring individual differences in empathy: Evidence for a multidimensional approach.

            Mark Davis (1983)
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              Determinants of social desirability bias in sensitive surveys: a literature review

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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                Front Psychol
                Front Psychol
                Front. Psychol.
                Frontiers in Psychology
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                1664-1078
                02 October 2020
                2020
                : 11
                : 547241
                Affiliations
                [1] 1Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine , Atlanta, GA, United States
                [2] 2Graduate Division of Religion, Emory University , Atlanta, GA, United States
                [3] 3Department of Behavioral, Social, and Health Education Sciences, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University , Atlanta, GA, United States
                [4] 4Department of Spiritual Health, Woodruff Health Sciences Center, Emory University , Atlanta, GA, United States
                [5] 5Center for Contemplative Science and Compassion-Based Ethics, Emory University , Atlanta, GA, United States
                [6] 6Department of Psychology, Southern Oregon University , Ashland, OR, United States
                [7] 7School of Human Ecology, University of Wisconsin–Madison , Madison, WI, United States
                Author notes

                Edited by: James Kirby, The University of Queensland, Australia

                Reviewed by: Shane Sinclair, University of Calgary, Canada; Jeffrey J. Kim, The University of Queensland, Australia

                *Correspondence: Jennifer S. Mascaro, jmascar@ 123456emory.edu

                This article was submitted to Emotion Science, a section of the journal Frontiers in Psychology

                Article
                10.3389/fpsyg.2020.547241
                7561712
                33132956
                67afc715-ec81-48ef-bd1f-f51afbe672a9
                Copyright © 2020 Mascaro, Florian, Ash, Palmer, Frazier, Condon and Raison.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                History
                : 30 March 2020
                : 28 August 2020
                Page count
                Figures: 1, Tables: 1, Equations: 0, References: 216, Pages: 19, Words: 0
                Categories
                Psychology
                Review

                Clinical Psychology & Psychiatry
                compassion,empathy,altruism,methods,phenomenology,compassion meditation

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