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Spirituality Practice, Generosity and Religiosity in Affluent Societies


Title: Quality Of Life In The 20 Most Affluent Societies The Compassion Action Index Author: Ron Anderson Last modified by: Ron Anderson Created Date – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Spirituality Practice, Generosity and Religiosity in Affluent Societies

Spirituality Practice, Generosity and Religiosity
in Affluent Societies
  • Ron Anderson ,
  • University of Minnesota, USA
  • Foundation for Compassionate Politics
  • rea_at_umn.edu

Presentation at the International Society for
Quality of Life Studies Florence, Italy, July 21,
Spirituality Perspective
Spirituality is the ability not to worry about
spirituality ---from Peace, Love, and Chocolate
Spiritual Humor
  • Spirituality is contemplating ultimate human
    concerns, including suffering
  • Compassion is the desire to alleviate this
  • Generosity is acting on this compassion
  • Generosity thus becomes the practice of

Conceptual framework
  • Sociology of Caring Compassion, the conceptual
    starting point
  • Oliners sociology of caring
  • Wuthrows theory of compassion individualism
  • Bellahs sociology of commitment
  • Etzionis Spirit of Community
  • Ecological economics, a guidepost
  • Suggesting that we ask what are the elements
    needed for sustainability of social

Ingredients of Compassion
intersection that defines a truly
sustainable community or society
Compassion Action Index
Nine Components ( Sample Indicators)
Socio-Economic Well-Being (Income Inequality) Child Well-Being (Often eating with parents) Human Life (Few homicides) Health (Low infant Mortality) Non-Violence (Low arms exports) Integrity Social Justice (Human rights protections) Civil Society (Low television viewing) Environment (Low carbon emissions) Generosity (Volunteering for social service work)
Criteria for Selecting Indicators for the
Compassion Action Index
  • Forty-two social Indicators were selected that
  • the degree of suffering in a society
  • or whether the people were acting to reduce
    suffering either now or in the future.
  • These 42 indicators fall into the 9 components

Countries in the Compassion Action Index, 2009
The Twenty Most Affluent Countries The Twenty Most Affluent Countries The Twenty Most Affluent Countries
Australia Germany Portugal
Austria Ireland Spain
Belgium Italy Sweden
Canada Japan Switzerland
Denmark Netherlands United Kingdom
Finland New Zealand United States
France Norway
Rich countries with tiny populations were not
Calculation of the Compassion Action Index
Locate the statistic (e.g., or mean) for each country for any given indicator Calculate standard scores (z-scores) by subtracting each county statistic, x, from the mean of all countries, and dividing the result by the standard deviation of all countries Re-standardize each z-score to give each set of scores a mean of 100 and a standard deviation of 15, just like an intelligence test score After this is done for all the indicators in a component set, e.g., health, then the mean of all non-missing scores is calculated for each country, to produce the component index score. The Compassion Action Index is the mean for each country of all nine component scores.
A Glimpse at the Scores for 20 countries 9
(No Transcript)
Does the Compassion Action Index Relate to
External Religiosity (Church Attendance)?
Does the Compassion Action Index Relate to the
importance of ones belief in God?
Note The WVS question was How important is God
in your life?
Does the Compassion Action Index relate to
happiness as measured by yesterdays feelings?
Yesterdays Affect Scale
  1. 14 self-report questions, each coded 1 for yes
    and 0 for noDid you experience the following
    feelings during A LOT OF THE DAY yesterday? How
    about..A enjoyment?B physical painC worryD
    sadnessE stressF angerG depressionH loveNow
    please think about YESTERDAY, from the morning
    untill the end of the day. Think of where you
    were, what you were doing and how you felt.I Did
    you feel well rested yesterday?J Did you smile
    or laugh a lot yesterday?K Did you learn or do
    something interesting yesterday?L Would you like
    to have more days just like yesterday?M Were you
    proud of something you did yesterday?N Were you
    treated with respect all day yesterday
  2. Computation - Average positive affect
    (AHIJKLMN)/8- Average negative affect
    (BCDEFG)/6- Affect Balance Average
    positive affect - Average negative affect

Does the Compassion Action Index relate to
happiness as measured by satisfaction with life?
Question in WVS How satisfied are you with
your life these days?
Four Conclusions
  1. Religious and spiritual approaches to social
    well-being argue that being generous or giving
    compassionate love are essential elements of
    quality lives. Yet we find that religiosity
    negatively correlates with compassion-based
    quality of life indicators, i.e., Compassion
    Action Index. Could it be that compassion is more
    prevelant in societies where the basis of
    morality and virtue are not grounded in beliefs
    about the supernatual? That is, situating
    compassion in community rather than dogma may be
    more effective.
  2. The sociology of caring argues for generosity as
    the social fabric for communities and societies
    (Oliner ). The Compassion Action Index provides a
    beginning for empirical compassion studies across

  • 3. The fact that the Compassion Action Index is
    correlated with major indicators of happiness
    confirms one type of external validty and
    suggests that further research in this direction
    should be encouraged.
  • 4. Measures of generous behavior tend to be
    neglected in studies of the quality of life. This
    suggests giving this higher priority in future
    research, not just among affluent societies.

Why www.CompassionatePolitics.org?
  • To promote deep caring for all human beings at
    all levels (personal, community, nation, and
  • To educate and thus shape public policy toward
    greater compassion
  • To be an intersection of ideas and people via a
    social network tool
  • Release relevant data and reports on quality of
    life studies

In September, 2009, look for CompassionatePoliitcs
  • CompassionatePolitics.org will feature
  • International Advisory Board
  • Technical details on Index 2009
  • Articles by various authors
  • Forum blog for open dialog
  • Polls and surveys
  • News and newsletters

Slides and charts from this presentation can be
found at http//www.soc.umn.edu/rea/
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