Science and Research

Science and Research

Image: Cortex in Metallic Pastels by Greg Dunn

by Dan Martin, PhD.

I would like to introduce you to my goals as Director of Research for the Charter for Compassion. The Charter is a cooperative effort to restore compassionate thinking and action to the center of business, religious, moral, social and political life. When we think about compassion we are usually thinking of an intangible, non-concrete concept floated by hippies or those rich and benevolently dominant enough to share what they have come to realize was the most important thing in life after hurting many through their raise to the top. Actually, compassion is a multidimensional construct that reflects an awareness of suffering, an empathetic reaction, followed by action to reduce that suffering.

Given this definition, it is easy to see compassion in behavior everywhere: the picking up of dropped paper on the street, the opening of doors for strangers, the offer of a 75 cents to help the person at the store pay for their groceries, the efforts of elementary school teachers to educate our children, mentoring a new employee, the social corporate responsibility programs of organizations, the legal underpinnings of anti-discrimination law, the efforts of scientists to eradicate disease, the sharing of dance music at a street fair, staying an extra 30 minutes to help a colleague with some extra work, or the ability to give oneself a break after a hard day of work.

My role at the Charter is to fulfill several mandates:

First, that compassion (and related) research finds its way into the hands of those who need it. This could be the executive struggling to understand why higher financial outcomes are being met, matched by their level of stress, anxiety and self-criticism or a population struggling to justify their feelings of concern/care though it may run counter to perceived self interest.

Second, the Charter has been affirmed by (currently) 107,000 people (some you may know: see here ), over 800 organizations in business, healthcare, religion, education, over 235affirming cities are and countries (Botswana). The opportunity to facilitate work and conduct research with individuals, groups, firms and larger organizations on a critical topic regarding human survival is unparalleled and required.

Third, both basic and applied research will be part of my effort with the Charter. While the work itself will vary, I have a strong penchant for research that will diagnose and address the needs of individuals, groups, communities and society in general, in a quantitative and evidence based fashion. Though my background is in the social sciences (Social-I/O psychology), compassion is not limited to any one disciplinary background, and when given just a few minutes discussing research with any scientist or student, we find they strive to address human needs in one way or another (be that at the microbiological, political, individual, physiological or psychological level). Accordingly, this is a call to all researchers, across all disciplines to share and construct a new collaboratory, an opportunity to collaborate for impactful change, and to be recognized for the deep care that brought them to their efforts.

What can you do? First, affirm the Charter here. Start an initiative at your school, work, town, city, state, country to affirm the Charter (case studies and instructions can be found at the Charter website. But remember, affirmation is not enough. Learn more about applied compassion in a variety of case studies, the science of compassion at the site as well.

Finally, reach out to us as a potential collaborator. We are developing compassion based interventions that aim to address burnout, compassion fatigue, stress, anxiety  and depression (All of which fundamentally impact productivity at work and school, contribute to a lack of psychological well-being, increase the number of workers compensation claims, increase health care costs, increase litigation, decrease customer satisfaction among other important business, community, mental health and societal outcomes) and would be interested in sharing research/application opportunities. Feel free to share this across your networks, join the conversation and be part of the action. I look forward to working with you.


Daniel E. Martin, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Dept. of Management
California State University, East Bay
Director of Research
Charter for Compassion
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About Us

  • charter brand transp blue mediumCharter for Compassion provides an umbrella for people to engage in collaborative partnerships worldwide. Our mission is to bring to life the principles articulated in the Charter for Compassion through concrete, practical action in a myriad of sectors.


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