Results: Both groups clearly distinguished kindness from compassion in the scenarios on the basis of suffering. In addition, participants rated compassion-based scenarios as significantly higher on sadness, anger, anxiety and disgust, whereas kindness-based scenarios had higher levels of joy. As a follow-up, a further sample (29 male, 63 female) also rated compassionate scenarios as involving significantly more suffering compared to the kindness scenarios.

Conclusions: Although overlapping concepts, compassion and kindness are clearly understood as different processes with different foci, competencies and emotion textures. This has implications for research in prosocial behaviour, and the cultivation of kindness and compassion for psychotherapy and in general.