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Can compassion literally be at our fingertips?


Narrator:           Is compassion literally at our fingertips? This is Science Today. Psychologist Dacher Keltner, who directs the University of California, Berkeley's Greater Good Science Center, says his lab conducted a study looking into whether humans can clearly communicate compassion through touch.

Keltner:            We built a barrier in our lab and a person stuck their arm through and they waited and this other person was given a list of emotions and they had to touch the person with a one-second touch on the forearm and that other person on the other side, make a guess and what you find, quite remarkably — compassion, they're getting it right 55-60 percent of the time.

Narrator:           Keltner says these findings and other scientific studies about the physical and emotional benefits of touch may lead to interventions and therapies.

Keltner:             There's new work in the Berkeley School of Public Health, just getting medical doctors to make eye contact, pat the person on the back — they're starting to show greater survival rates in the face of complex diseases.

Narrator:           For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.