Condon, P., et al. (2013). Meditation Increases Compassionate Responses to Suffering. Psychological Science. Full text.
Excerpts: Contemplative science has documented a plethora of meditation, including increases in gray matter density, positive affect, and improvement in various mental health outcomes. strikingly, however, much less is known about the inter-personal impact of meditation. Although Buddhist teachings suggest that increases in compassionate responding should be a primary outcome of meditation, little scientific evidence exists to support this conjecture.
[The authors] utilized a design where individuals were confronted with a person in pain in an ecologically valid way. If, as suggested by Buddhist theorizing, meditation enhances compassionate responding, participants who completed a brief meditation course should more frequently act to relieve this person’s suffering.
Confirming the view that meditation directly enhances compassionate responding, meditators more frequently offered their seats to the sufferer than did non-meditators from the waitlist control.