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Mind-Body Health, Leadership, Culture, Social Connection, & Compassion

Emma Seppälä has studied well-being, human resilience and human thriving from various angles: mind-body practices, leadership, culture, social connection and compassion. She has studied the impact of yoga-based practices on trauma and mental health, the benefit of meditation for social connection, and the impact of cultural perspectives on well-being. Below is a short summary of some of her areas of research. To see a complete list of publications, see her Google Scholar profile here.

Mind-Body Interventions for Resilience & Well-Being

Emma is passionate about helping people become psychologically resilient and stress-free. To this end, she has looked at mind-body interventions - in particular breathing and meditation - to help boost mental health and psychological well-being. 

Seppala, E.M., Bradley, C., Moeller, J. et al. (2020)

Promoting Mental Health and Psychological Thriving in University Students: A Randomized Controlled Trial of Three Well-Being Interventions.

Peter J Bayley, R Jay Schulz-Heik, Julia S Tang [...] & Emma M Seppälä. (2022)

Randomised clinical non-inferiority trial of breathing-based meditation and cognitive processing therapy for symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in military veterans

Seppala, E. M., Nitschke, J. B., Tudorascu, D. L., Hayes, A., Goldstein, M. R., Nguyen, D. T. H., Perlman, D., & Davidson, R. J. (2014)

Breathing-based meditation decreases posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms in military veterans: A randomized controlled longitudinal study. Journal of Traumatic Stress.

Social Connection, Compassion & Meditation

Social connection is one of our fundamental human needs (Baumeister & Leary, 1995). Social connection has been linked to psychological and physical health, recover from disease and even longevity while lack of social connection is worse for health than smoking and obesity. For more information on the health benefits of social connection, see Emma Seppälä’s psychology today post. The following papers on social connection, loving-kindness meditation and compassion were a result of research conducted by Seppälä with Cendri Hutcherson, Ph.D. and James Gross, Ph.D. as well as James R. Doty, M.D., at Stanford University.

Hutcherson C., Seppala E., Gross J.J.

(2008). Emotion, 8: 720–724.

Loving-Kindness Meditation Increases Social Connectedness

Seppala, E., Rossomando. T., Doty, J. R.


Social Connection and Compassion: Important Predictors of Health andWell-Being.

Neff, K., Seppala, E. M.

(Ed. Brown, K. W., Leary, M. 2016)

Compassion, Well-being, and the Hypoegoic Self . Handbook of Hypo-egoic Phenomena

Kirby, J., Seppala, E.M, et al,


“Positive and negative attitudes towards compassion predict compassionate outcomes” Current Psychology.

Hutcherson C., Seppala E., Gross J.J.


The Neural Correlates of Social Connection. Cognitive Affective Behavioral Neuroscience.

Chapin, HL, Darnall BD, Seppala E, Doty J, Mackey S.

Compassion meditation training for people living with chronic pain and their significant others: A pilot study and mixed-methods analysis

Zimbardo, P, Seppala, E. M., Doty, J.R. (2017)

Heroism: Socially-Engaged Compassion in Action. Oxford Handbook of Compassion Science

SR Steindl, CL Tellegen, A Filus, E Seppälä, JR Doty…  Australian Psychologist (2021)

The Compassion Motivation and Action Scales: a self-report measure of compassionate and self-compassionate behaviours

Culture and Emotion

Culture impacts how we feel. Emotions are experienced differently in different cultural contexts. In East Asian contexts, for example, preference is given to positive emotions that are more peaceful such as calmness whereas in American contexts, preference is given to positive emotions that are more high-intensity, such as excitement.. The following papers, the results of Emma Seppälä’s research with Dr. Jeanne Tsai at Stanford University, explain how social interactions and religion may relate to these cultural differences.

Tsai J.L., Miao F., Seppala E. (2007)

Good feelings in Christianity and Buddhism: Religious differences in ideal affect. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 33: 409–421.

Tsai J.L., Miao F.F., Seppala E., Yeung D., Fung H.H. (2007)

Influence and adjustment goals: Sources of cultural differences in ideal affect. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92: 1102–1117.

Compassion & Business

What role do of a company’s values play in the well-being of their employees? How does someone’s attitude toward their work impact their well-being levels. How important is social connection at work? The field of organization behavior and corporate well-being is relatively new yet we spend most of our time at the workplace. Recent research is showing that happier workplaces are more profitable. This line of research seeks to understand how to increase happiness at the workplace and what factors most contribute to employee well-being.

Martin, D., Seppala, E., Heineberg, Y., Rossomando, T., et al. (2014)

Dominance Orientation, Economic Systems Justification and Compassion

Seppala, E. M., Hutcherson, C. A., Nguyen, D. T. H., Doty, J. R., Gross, J. J. (2014)

Loving-kindness Meditation: A tool to improve healthcare provider compassion, resilience, and patient care

Martin, D, Seppala, E. et al.


Multiple facets of compassion: The impact of social dominance orientation and economic systems justification.

Seppala E

Read Emma’s articles in Harvard Business Review


Learn More About Collaborating with Emma

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