The early roots of compassion: From child care arrangements to dispositional compassion in adulthood

Kia Gluschkoff, Elli Oksman, Ariel Knafo-Noam, Henrik Dobewall, Taina Hintsa, Liisa Keltikangas-Järvinen, Mirka Hintsanen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Compassion is linked with individual well-being, but its early origins, especially in the context of caregiving, remain poorly understood. Using a cohort of 323 Finnish individuals followed prospectively from the age of 3 to the age of 35, we examined whether care arrangements at ages 3 and 6 are associated with dispositional compassion in adulthood. Participants’ parents provided data on early child care arrangements (home care, family care, or center-based care), and dispositional compassion was self-reported when the participants were 20, 24, and 35 years old. Multilevel modeling was applied to examine the association between early care and compassion, adjusting for the correlation between repeated measures within participants and several potential confounders. Our results showed that care arrangements at age 6, but not at age 3, were independently predictive of compassion later in life. When joint effects of different care arrangements that covered both ages 3 and 6 were examined, above average scores on adulthood compassion were observed among participants in home care at age 3 and center-based care at age 6. Characteristics of early care appear to contribute to the development of compassion with effects that persist into adult life.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)28-32
Number of pages5
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
StatePublished - 15 Jul 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier Ltd


  • Care arrangements
  • Compassion
  • Personality development


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