Center for Building a Culture of Empathy

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Compassion Research Day at Facebook HQ - July 11, 2012

Article: Greater Good: July 25, 2012 - Can Science Make Facebook More Compassionate?

"Facebook is confronting cyberbullying and online conflict. Can a team of researchers help boost kindness among the site's 900 million users?... “It’s those kinds of kind, compassionate interactions,” he says, “that help build a sustainable community.”"


 Article:  07/19/2012  Facebook Builds Reporting Tools to Encourage 'Compassion'

"Like other engineers at Facebook, Arturo Bejar, a mathematician by training, is helping to build new products to encourage users to communicate and share.But his products are a bit different. He works on social tools to help people get along with each other and resolve conflicts ranging from the posting of annoying pictures to serious cases of bullying. Working with researchers from Yale, Berkeley and Columbia University, Bejar and his team are tasked with improving the tools that enable Facebook users to report and resolve problems. "


Event posting on Facebook:
Supporting the 900+ million people who use Facebook is a big challenge and we have found that understanding the science of how people relate is essential in building tools that help people.

Over the last six months we've partnered with great researchers in the field of communicating emotion and social-emotional learning. We would like to share data and discuss what we've learned, host some of the best researchers in the field of compassion research as well as a teacher and the youth he works with for our summer Compassion Research Day on July 11th.

The day is open to the public, if you know someone building tools that help communication between people, work with teachers who help with conflict resolution, or are interested in the science of how we relate, please invite them to come along.


9:00am-9:15am  Opening remarks 

  • Presenters: Arturo Bejar and Jake Brill, Facebook Engineering

9:15am-10:35am - This Post is a Problem 
Adolescents report mild-to-severe incidences of bullying and other problematic behaviors on Facebook each day. Creating report flows that guide them to get the best help possible is critical to their well-being. Our team will share findings from newly designed reporting flows that were developed using principles of child development and input from Facebook's youngest users themselves. Presenters: 

  • Marc Brackett, Deputy Director, Health, Emotion, & Behavior Laboratory, Yale University

  • Robin Stern, Psychoanalyst; Program in Communication and Education, Teachers College, Columbia University

  • Andres Richner, Instructional Technologist; Educator


11:00am-12:30pm  I Am Not a Shoe 
Reporting contentious content on FB has evolved from filling a form to engaging users in a meaningful exchange to facilitate empathy, mindfulness, and deeper social connection. We'll describe the progression of this process and the impact it has had on Facebook users' experience. Presenters:

  • Dacher Keltner, Director of Berkeley's Social Interaction Laboratory

  • Emiliana Simon-Thomas, Science Director, Greater Good Science Center, UC Berkeley

  • Paul Piff, Post-Doctoral Research Scientist, Psychology Department, UC Berkeley



1:15pm - 2:15pm - The Social Tuning of Compassion
What triggers, or tempers, our compassion for others? Though many have thought of compassion as a stable trait, this talk will highlight the very subtle ways in which our noble intuitions can be turned on and off, connecting and disconnecting us from one another at the flip of a switch. 

  • Piercarlo Valdesolo, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, CA.

2:15pm - 3:15pm - The Costs of Compassion and Callousness 
Compassion is a powerful moral emotion that often compels us to help others in need. Yet we often avoid feeling compassion in the pursuit of self-interested goals. In this talk, I will examine factors that motivate people to avoid feeling compassion for others, and how compassion avoidance changes how people think about morality. Presenters:

  • Daryl Cameron, social psychology graduate student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


3:30pm-4:45pm -  Hope Required 

Youth panel, led by Jeff Duncan-Andrade, that explores the questions: What are the material conditions that effect urban youth before they even step foot in our schools? What does it mean to develop educational environments that are relevant and responsive to these conditions? How should these educational spaces define success for students, educators, and the broader community? Presenters: 

  • Jeff Duncan-Andrade, East Oakland high school teacher, Associate Professor of Raza Studies and Education at San Francisco State University and Director of the Educational Equity Initiative at the Institute for Sustainable Economic, Educational, and Environmental Design (ISEEED).