Researcher, Author, Speaker
Prof. Dr. Tania Singer is a social neuroscientist and psychologist and world expert on empathy and compassion. She has a passion creating bridges between fields that typically never interact such as linking neuroscience with economics, science with arts or science with spirituality.
“A lack of compassion is arguably the cause of humankind’s biggest failures.”
Learning from contemplative traditions from the East, she has initiated and headed one of the largest meditation-based secular mental training studies on compassion, the ReSource project. Linking such findings to the field of economics, she developed a “caring economics” approach, developing new models of economy based on care and social cohesion.
Throughout her life she has explored how inner change can bring about societal change putting science in the service of societal transformation.
Building bridges between fields
Fields of Expertise
In her scientific exploration, Tania has always been passionate about creating bridges between fields that typically rarely interact, such as linking social psychology with neuroscience, neuroscience with economics, science with arts, or science with contemplative wisdom traditions from the East.
Tania has a rich, colourful and international biography characterised by many moves within Germany and Europe. Below are some keywords of her most important academic positions.
- Studies of Psychology and Media Counselling at the University of Marburg and Technical University of Berlin.
- PhD in Psychology at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin.
- Postdoctoral years at the Wellcome Centre for Human Neuroimaging & Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at University College, London.
- Assistant and full Professorships in Social Neuroscience & Inaugural Chair in Neuroeconomics & Co-Director of the Laboratory for Social and Neural System Research at the University of Zürich.
- Directorship, Department of Social Neuroscience, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig.
- Scientific Head, Social Neuroscience Lab, Max Planck Society, Berlin.
Tania is now head of the Social Neuroscience Lab of the Max Planck Society in Berlin. She investigates Human Social Behaviour as well as social emotions such as empathy and compassion and their trainability.
She is founder and Principal Investigator of the ReSource project a large-scale longitudinal study with more than 300 participants and 90 different measures on the effects of meditation-based mental training on brain plasticity, mental and physical health, and pro-social behaviour. The ReSource project has taken more than 10 years to be developed and conducted, generating more than 40 peer-reviewed scientific papers to date (see here for the ReSource webpage).
She further holds a cooperation with the macroeconomist Prof. Dennis Snower on the topic of Caring Economics. Together they explore how biology and psychology can inform new economic models and decision-making.
Currently, Tania is heading the CovSocial Project, a study that investigates on the changes of vulnerability, social cohesion and resilience during the SARS-COV-19 pandemic in Berlin.
In the context of her longtime board membership of the Mind and Life Institute, she helped organise together with Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard two large-scale conferences with the Dalai Lama, in 2010 in Zürich and in 2016 in Brussels. These conferences were published in two books, “Caring Economics” and “Power and Care”.
Tania has further published her findings in more than 150 high-impact peer-reviewed journals and book chapters, and has given several hundred keynote lectures on the stages of many prestigious institutions such as the World Economic Forum, MIT, Harvard, Oxford, Stanford, ETH and at many global companies.
Throughout her career, Tania has further engaged in art and science cooperation. Among others, she cooperates with the artist Olafur Eliasson, and together with him she has produced a movie and a freely downloadable eBook on compassion.
Latest News & Upcoming EventsSee all >
19th January 2021 – This movie shows three decades of collaboration between Western scientists and Buddhist scholars including interviews with and features of Tania Singer’s research. This long-term collaboration has revealed techniques that allow us to develop our mental well-being and improve the impact we have on our planet. (A German version is planned to be released in February 2021.)
Launch of the CovSocial research project
10th September 2020 – A Berlin research project on experiencing stress, social cohesion and resilience during the Corona crisis in cooperation with the Charite, the Humboldt University of Berlin and the MPI for Psychiatry, funded by the Max Planck Society and the Berlin University Alliance (BUA).
Recent Talks & PodcastsSee all >
3rd March 2021. In the tabularasa podcast, Tania Singer talks about the results of the ReSource project. She also discusses the social and psychological effects that a long-term lockdown could have in times of COVID-19, as well as the challenges and necessary measures to make digitization socially acceptable.
Keynote: The Neurobiology of Empathy and Compassion
19th December 2020 – The 10th Empathy Conference of the DAI Heidelberg in the framework of Geist Heidelberg took place with the title: “Empathy under pressure? How we experience empathy in crises and conflicts”. In her presentation Tania Singer talks about empathy and compassion. Can mindfulness and social skills be trained? How do empathy and compassion differ? (German)
Latest Scientific PublicationsSee all >
Chierchia, G.; Przyrembel, M.; Parianen Lesemann, F. H.; Bosworth, S.; Snower, D.; Singer, T.
Navigating Motivation: A Semantic and Subjective Atlas of 7 Motives. Frontiers in Psychology (2021)
Grosse Wiesmann, C.; Friederici, A.D.; Singer, T.; Steinbeis, N.
Two systems for thinking about other’s thoughts in the developing brain. PNAS (2020)
Trautwein, F.; Kanske, P.; Böckler-Raettig, A.; Singer, T.
Differential Benefits of Mental Training Types for Attention, Compassion, and Theory of Mind. Cognition 194, 104039 (2020)