A Whole Trait Theory Account of Mindfulness in Adolescence

Parallel streams of research show that adolescents’ social ecologies and contemplative practices both play roles in the development of trait mindfulness, but these lines of inquiry rarely intersect or enrich one another. This project draws from whole trait theory to propose and test a framework that bridges these two streams by offering a broad account …

Creation of a performance-based measure of compassion for use with children

Compassion is a complex skill involving both psychological (invisible) components and behavioral (visible) manifestations. In a new generation of Social-Emotional Learning programs that target compassion like Social, Emotional, and Ethical Learning (SEE LearningTM), these skills are hypothesized to both develop naturally and to be cultivated intentionally through enrichment efforts. The challenge is that few developmentally …

Student Flourishing Initiative: Building Resiliency Among College Students

One in five college students reports declining mental health as a result of the COVID pandemic. This is on top of a recent generational rise in rates of anxiety and depression among college-aged youth. Could a unique course that blends academic and experiential learning help prepare first-year students for the stressors that lie ahead during …

Cultivating Compassion in Healthcare: One Researcher’s Journey

In the midst of the COVID pandemic, health care is in the news daily. But there’s an often-overlooked element in many hospital systems: the role of chaplains. For patients experiencing loneliness, isolation, fear, and physical pain, chaplains offer much needed emotional support, spiritual guidance, and hope. But could chaplains and the patients they support also …

School-Based Promotion of Children’s Empathy, Kindness, and Altruism: Emerging Research, Lingering Questions, and Future Directions

There is a growing consensus among psychologists, educators, and the public at large that a more comprehensive vision of education is needed—one that includes an explicit focus on “educating the heart” and intentionally cultivates children’s social and emotional competencies and positive human qualities, including self-regulation, self-awareness, empathy, compassion, and altruism. This explicit and intentional focus …

Developmental Contemplative Science: Framework for the Study of Prosocial Development

The aim of this talk is to provide a brief introduction to Developmental Contemplative Science (DCS), a theoretical framework that leverages insights from recent research on brain and behavioral development and examines how contemplative practices can facilitate the emergence of essential human functions such as reflection, agency, well being, and empathy. On this view, development …

Fieldwork on Contemplative Practices with High Risk Preschoolers: Children’s Empathic, Compassionate, and Self-Regulatory Behaviors

The purpose of this pilot study is to examine the effects of a mindfulness intervention on emerging self-regulation and compassion/empathy among low-income preschoolers. The study will be conducted with children enrolled in Project GROW, an Americorps program at UW-Madison that pairs college students with low-income preschoolers over the course of a school year. Project GROW …