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Pity vs. Compassion: What's the Difference?

Edited by Sumera Saeed || By Sara Rehman || Published on December 18, 2023
Pity is feeling sorrow for the misfortunes of others often with a sense of detachment, while compassion involves empathizing with and wanting to alleviate someone's suffering.

Key Differences

Pity is an emotional response to the suffering of others, often characterized by feelings of sadness or sorrow, but it maintains a certain distance. Compassion, in contrast, involves deeply understanding and sharing the feelings of another, often coupled with a desire to help.
Sara Rehman
Dec 18, 2023
Pity can sometimes imply a sense of superiority or condescension, as it does not necessarily involve an empathetic connection. Compassion, however, is rooted in equality and involves a deep, empathetic understanding of another's situation.
Sara Rehman
Dec 18, 2023
In pity, the focus is often on the emotion felt by the observer rather than the actual needs of the suffering person. Compassion, on the other hand, motivates a person to take action to alleviate someone else's distress.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 18, 2023
Pity can be passive, simply an emotional response without a corresponding action. Compassion is usually active, driving a person to make a positive difference in the lives of those who are suffering.
Sara Rehman
Dec 18, 2023
Pity can sometimes maintain or reinforce the suffering person's sense of helplessness, while compassion empowers both the giver and receiver, fostering a sense of shared humanity and strength.
Harlon Moss
Dec 18, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Nature

Emotional response
Empathetic connection
Sara Rehman
Dec 18, 2023

Action

Often passive
Involves active help
Sara Rehman
Dec 18, 2023

Perception

Can be condescending
Based on equality
Sara Rehman
Dec 18, 2023

Focus

On the observer's feelings
On alleviating others' suffering
Harlon Moss
Dec 18, 2023

Outcome

Can reinforce helplessness
Empowers and helps
Janet White
Dec 18, 2023
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Pity and Compassion Definitions

Pity

Pity can imply a gentle, sometimes patronizing, sympathy.
His voice was full of pity as he spoke of the disaster victims.
Sara Rehman
Nov 30, 2023

Compassion

Compassion involves the desire to alleviate or reduce the suffering of another.
She showed compassion by donating to the charity for children in need.
Aimie Carlson
Nov 30, 2023

Pity

Pity is the feeling of sorrow for the misfortunes of others.
She felt a deep sense of pity for the abandoned puppies.
Sara Rehman
Nov 30, 2023

Compassion

Compassion is characterized by an emotional resonance with someone else's pain.
The nurse’s compassion was evident in her care for the patient.
Sara Rehman
Nov 30, 2023

Pity

Pity sometimes involves feelings of discomfort at the distress of another.
She couldn’t help but feel pity when she saw the homeless man in the cold.
Janet White
Nov 30, 2023

Compassion

Compassion is a deep awareness of and sympathy for another's suffering.
His compassion for the earthquake victims led him to volunteer at the aid camp.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 30, 2023

Pity

Pity often conveys a sense of distance or detachment from the person's suffering.
There was a note of pity in her words, but no real understanding.
Sara Rehman
Nov 30, 2023

Compassion

Compassion entails a profound and genuine concern for the welfare of others.
Their compassion for the stray animals motivated them to build a shelter.
Aimie Carlson
Nov 30, 2023

Pity

Pity can be an expression of tenderness towards someone's misfortune.
He showed pity for the injured bird by gently caring for it.
Harlon Moss
Nov 30, 2023

Compassion

Compassion is often accompanied by an active effort to help.
Moved by compassion, the community gathered supplies for the flood victims.
Harlon Moss
Nov 30, 2023

Pity

Sympathy and sorrow aroused by the misfortune or suffering of another.
Sara Rehman
Nov 30, 2023

Compassion

Deep awareness of the suffering of another accompanied by the wish to relieve it.
Sara Rehman
Nov 30, 2023

Pity

A matter of regret
It's a pity she can't attend the reception.
Sara Rehman
Nov 30, 2023

Compassion

Deep awareness of the suffering of another, coupled with the wish to relieve it.
Sara Rehman
Nov 30, 2023

Compassion

(obsolete) To pity.
Sara Rehman
Nov 30, 2023

Compassion

Literally, suffering with another; a sensation of sorrow excited by the distress or misfortunes of another; pity; commiseration.
Womanly ingenuity set to work by womanly compassion.
Sara Rehman
Nov 30, 2023

Compassion

To pity.
Sara Rehman
Nov 30, 2023

Compassion

A deep awareness of and sympathy for another's suffering
Sara Rehman
Nov 30, 2023

Compassion

The humane quality of understanding the suffering of others and wanting to do something about it
Sara Rehman
Nov 30, 2023

FAQs

What is pity?

Pity is feeling sorrow or sympathy for someone else's misfortune or suffering.
Sara Rehman
Dec 18, 2023

How does pity differ from empathy?

Pity is feeling sorry for someone, while empathy involves understanding and sharing their feelings.
Sara Rehman
Dec 18, 2023

Is compassion always about action?

Compassion often leads to action, but it primarily involves empathetic understanding.
Sara Rehman
Dec 18, 2023

Can pity be demeaning?

Yes, pity can sometimes be seen as demeaning as it may imply a sense of superiority.
Sara Rehman
Dec 18, 2023

What is compassion?

Compassion is understanding someone's suffering with a desire to help alleviate it.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 18, 2023

How is compassion shown in everyday life?

Compassion is shown through acts of kindness, understanding, and efforts to alleviate others’ suffering.
Janet White
Dec 18, 2023

How do children learn pity and compassion?

Children learn pity and compassion through social interactions, modeling by adults, and cultural norms.
Janet White
Dec 18, 2023

Does compassion require personal experience of suffering?

No, compassion doesn't require personal experience, but it involves empathetic understanding.
Sara Rehman
Dec 18, 2023

Is pity a negative emotion?

Pity is not necessarily negative, but it can be perceived negatively if it implies condescension.
Sara Rehman
Dec 18, 2023

Can pity lead to patronizing behavior?

Yes, pity can sometimes lead to patronizing behavior if it is not accompanied by respect.
Sara Rehman
Dec 18, 2023

How does culture influence expressions of pity and compassion?

Cultural norms and values significantly influence how and when pity and compassion are expressed.
Janet White
Dec 18, 2023

Can pity be harmful?

Pity can be harmful if it reinforces power imbalances or the recipient's sense of helplessness.
Janet White
Dec 18, 2023

Does pity involve an equal relationship?

Pity often does not involve an equal relationship and can create a sense of distance.
Aimie Carlson
Dec 18, 2023

Is compassion a sign of weakness?

No, compassion is often considered a sign of emotional strength and maturity.
Aimie Carlson
Dec 18, 2023

Can animals show pity or compassion?

Animals can show behaviors that resemble pity or compassion, especially in social species.
Sara Rehman
Dec 18, 2023

Is it possible to feel too much pity or compassion?

Excessive pity or compassion, without boundaries, can lead to emotional burnout or over-involvement.
Harlon Moss
Dec 18, 2023

Is pity beneficial in therapeutic settings?

In therapeutic settings, empathy is generally more beneficial than pity.
Sara Rehman
Dec 18, 2023

What role does compassion play in conflict resolution?

Compassion plays a crucial role in conflict resolution by fostering understanding and empathy.
Aimie Carlson
Dec 18, 2023

Are there any health benefits to practicing compassion?

Practicing compassion can have mental health benefits like reduced stress and increased happiness.
Janet White
Dec 18, 2023

Can compassion be learned?

Yes, compassion can be cultivated through practices like mindfulness and empathetic engagement.
Harlon Moss
Dec 18, 2023
About Author
Written by
Sara Rehman
Sara Rehman is a seasoned writer and editor with extensive experience at Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Information Technology, she combines her academic prowess with her passion for writing to deliver insightful and well-researched content.
Edited by
Sumera Saeed
Sumera is an experienced content writer and editor with a niche in comparative analysis. At Diffeence Wiki, she crafts clear and unbiased comparisons to guide readers in making informed decisions. With a dedication to thorough research and quality, Sumera's work stands out in the digital realm. Off the clock, she enjoys reading and exploring diverse cultures.

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