In 1999, Fogarty et al published research in the Journal of Clinical Oncology on the effect of physician compassion on client’s anxiety, information recall, treatment decisions, and assessment of physician characteristics. One hundred twenty three healthy breast cancer survivors and 87 women without cancer were participants. A randomized pre/post test control group design with a standardized videotape intervention was used. Participants completed a State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), an information recall test, a compassion rating, and a physician attribute rating scale. Results showed that women who saw the compassion video were significantly less anxious after watching it than the group who watched a standardized video and rated physicians as warmer and more caring, sensitive and compassionate than the other group. The group watching the compassionate video also rated the doctor significantly higher on other positive attributes such as wanting what was best for the patient and encouraging the patients questions and involvement in decision making. However, neither group did well on information recall. Researchers concluded that the enhanced compassion segment was simple, short, and effective in decreasing the patients anxiety.
Several studies looked at wealth and compassion and consistently found that as wealth increased compassion decreased. In one study in 2012 Piff and Keltner studied whether social class (wealth, occupational prestige, and education) influenced how much people care about the feelings of others by discretely observing the behavior of drivers at a busy four corner intersection. Results showed that luxury upper class car drivers were more likely to cut off others instead of waiting for their turn regardless gender, time of day, or amount of traffic at the intersection. They also more often would speed past a pedestrian trying to use the crosswalk even after making eye contact. In a related study these researchers –wanted to determine wither selfishness leads to wealth or vise verse and manipulated participant’s class feelings. . Participants were asked to spend a few minutes comparing themselves to either people wh were better off or worse off than they were financially. Afterwards participants were shown a jar of candy and told they could take home as much as they wanted and that the leftover candy would be given to children in a nearby laboratory. Participants who spent time thinking about being better off than others took significantly more candy than the group who spent time thinking about being less well off than others leaving less for the children.
In 2011 Stellar et al carried out another set of studies on the influence of social class on feelings of compassion toward people who are suffering. In one, findings showed that less affluent individuals are more likely to report feeling compassion toward others on a regular basis. They responded positively to statements like “I often notice people who need help” and “It’s important to take care of people who are vulnerable.” There results were independent of gender, ethnicity, and spiritual beliefs that are known to affect compassion. In a related study they had participants watch two videos while having their heart rate monitored. The first video explained how to build a patio and the second showed children suffering from cancer. After watching subjects were asked how much compassion they felt while watching either film. Results showed those at the lower end of class as measured by income and education were more likely to report feeling compassion while watching the video of children with cancer.