Senior Project Advisor

Barbara Lehman

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2021


FACS, Meditation, Compassion


The present study investigated the differential effects of a brief compassion meditation compared to a brief mindfulness meditation on felt and facially expressed compassion while viewing images of suffering. Participants (N = 82) were randomly assigned to one of two meditation conditions designed to promote compassion and relaxation, or relaxation alone. Participants then filmed themselves as they watched a two-minute compassion-inducing video that depicted suffering from around the world. These participant videos were later coded using three-distinct facial coding schemes: Complex FACS, Simplified FACS, and intuition rating. Finally, participants responded to a battery of self-report items about the level of compassion and sadness they experienced during the stimulus video, their trait emotional expressivity, and demographic questions including prior experience with meditation. Results found no difference in felt or facially expressed compassion between participants who completed the compassion meditation and those who completed the mindfulness meditation. Complex and Simplified FACS coding schemes were highly correlated, and both only weakly associated with intuition ratings. However, all three facial coding schemes failed to be even moderately associated with self-reported compassion. Intuition was the most vulnerable facial coding method to the influence of individual differences in gender and trait emotional expressivity. Finally, the current study found that FACS was unable to measure participant compassion, however, further research should be conducted using FACS in combination with other indicators of compassion.



Subjects - Topical (LCSH)

Meditations; Compassion; Facial expression


fieldwork (research)




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