University of Oulu

Aino I. L. Saarinen, Liisa Keltikangas-Järvinen, Laura Pulkki-Råback, Claude Robert Cloninger, Marko Elovainio, Terho Lehtimäki, Olli Raitakari & Mirka Hintsanen (2020) The relationship of dispositional compassion with well-being: a study with a 15-year prospective follow-up, The Journal of Positive Psychology, 15:6, 806-820, DOI: 10.1080/17439760.2019.1663251

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

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Author: Saarinen, Aino I. L.1,2; Keltikangas-Järvinen, Liisa2; Pulkki-Råback, Laura2;
Organizations: 1Research Unit of Psychology, University of Oulu, Finland
2Department of Psychology and Logopedics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki, Finland
3Department of Psychiatry, Washington University, St. Louis, United States
4National Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland
5Department of Clinical Chemistry, Fimlab Laboratories and Faculty of Medicine and Health Technology, Finnish Cardiovascular Research Center, Tampere University, Tampere, Finland
6Research Centre of Applied and Preventive Cardiovascular Medicine, University of Turku, Finland; Department of Clinical Physiology and Nuclear Medicine, Turku University Hospital, Finland
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.3 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Informa, 2020
Publish Date: 2022-06-28


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 < 0.001), lower negative affect (B = −0.358, p < 0.001), and total score of affective well-being (the relationship of positive versus negative affect) (B = 0.345, p < 0.001). Moreover, high compassion was associated with higher indicators of cognitive well-being: higher social support (B = 0.194, p < 0.001), life satisfaction (B = 0.149, p < 0.001), subjective health (B = 0.094, p < 0.001), optimism (B = 0.307, p < 0.001), and total score of cognitive well-being (B = 0.265, p < 0.001). Longitudinal analyses showed that high compassion predicted higher affective well-being over a 15-year follow-up (B = 0.361, p < 0.001) and higher social support over a 10-year follow-up (B = 0.230, p < 0.001). 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.

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Series: Journal of positive psychology
ISSN: 1743-9760
ISSN-E: 1743-9779
ISSN-L: 1743-9760
Volume: 15
Issue: 6
Pages: 806 - 820
DOI: 10.1080/17439760.2019.1663251
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 515 Psychology
Funding: This study was supported financially by the Academy of Finland (M.H., grant number 308676); the Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation (L.P.-R.), and the Yrjö Jahnsson Foundation (L.P.-R.). The Young Finns Study has been financially supported by the Academy of Finland: grants 286284, 134309 (Eye), 126925, 121584, 124282, 129378 (Salve), 117787 (Gendi), and 41071 (Skidi); the Social Insurance Institution of Finland; Competitive State Research Financing of the Expert Responsibility area of Kuopio, Tampere and Turku University Hospitals (grant X51001); Juho Vainio Foundation; Paavo Nurmi Foundation; Finnish Foundation for Cardiovascular Research; Finnish Cultural Foundation; The Sigrid Juselius Foundation; Tampere Tuberculosis Foundation; Emil Aaltonen Foundation; Yrjö Jahnsson Foundation; Signe and Ane Gyllenberg Foundation (T.L); Diabetes Research Foundation of Finnish Diabetes Association; and EU Horizon 2020 (grant 755320 for TAXINOMISIS); and European Research Council (grant 742927 for MULTIEPIGEN project); Tampere University Hospital Supporting Foundation.
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 308676
Detailed Information: 308676 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in The Journal of Positive Psychology on 11 Sep 2019, available online: