Current Research Projects

Gone Fishing.

Staff: Dr James Kirby, Dr Sarah Kelly, Anthony Ryan

Project: This research project aims to evaluate whether the immersion program ‘Gone Fishing’ is helpful at improving leadership qualities and developing an individual’s sense of compassion and empathy, as well as caring behaviours.

The study involves business executives traveling for immersion into a community in Kenya, Africa and participating in a range of activities such as helping in classrooms, medical clinics, and kitchens. The research project is a collaboration between the Edmund Rice Foundation (Mr Ryan), the UQ School of Business (Dr Kelly), and The Compassion Initiative (Dr Kirby).

Compassion Cultivation Programs: A Meta-Analysis.

Staff: Dr James Kirby, Dr Cassandra Tellegen, Dr Stan Steindl

Project: A number of compassion cultivation programs have now been developed and implemented by different research groups around the world. As a result, there is a growing body of research examining the effectiveness of these programs, including a number of randomised controlled trials.

This project involves conducting a meta-analysis across all compassion-based programs to determine the overall effectiveness of these programs.

Compassion and Secrets.

Staff: Dr James Kirby, Dr Michael Slepian

Project: This project is an international collaboration between the University of Columbia (Dr Slepian) and The Compassion Initiative (Dr Kirby) to determine with whom people share their secrets.

The project investigates whether people are more likely to share secrets with others who they judge to be higher in compassion.

The Compassion Motivation and Commitment Scale.

Staff: Dr James Kirby, Dr Stan Steindl, Dr Emma Seppala, Prof James Doty

Project: By definition, compassion involves motivations for, and commitment to, alleviate suffering. However, current measures in the field of compassion do not assess for either. This project, a collaboration between The Compassion Initiative (Dr Kirby and Dr Steindl) and Stanford University’s CCARE (Dr Seppala and Prof Doty), will involve the construction of a new measure aimed at assessing a person’s motivation for, and commitment to, acting compassionately towards self and others.

The project has been informed by theories related to Motivational Interviewing, especially in terms of the components of motivation and commitment that are being measured.

Convergence: The Science, Art and Spirit of

Staff: Dr Stan Steindl, Dr Anthony Garcia, Dr James Kirby

Project: Over recent years, Spirituality, Science and the Arts have converged in an attempt to cultivate compassion in society. Inspired by these developments, this project explores this “convergence”, drawing on ancient traditions of meditative and mindfulness practice, more recent principles of evolutionary science and neuroscience, and the emotional potency of music to enhance compassion and self-compassion.Participants are taken through a series of experiential exercises and conversations, as well as practical strategies that may be incorporated into day-to-day life.

The project will assess the effectiveness of this approach on building motivation for, and commitment to, compassionate action.

Completed Research Projects

Parenting and Self-Compassion.

Staff: Dr James Kirby, Sarah Baldwin, David Laczko

Project: We are currently examining the role of self-compassion, cultivated via the established Loving-Kindness Meditation, in the context of families.

Dr Kirby is supervising two Honours students from the University of Queensland where we are examining the effect of the Loving-Kindness Meditation on psychological well-being in two experimental groups: (1) with parents of young children, and (2) with young adults still living at the family home.

See Sarah Baldwin’s findings

See David Laczko’s findings