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(Zaki 0000)

Title:  Empathy is a moral force
DOI or Website Link:
Publication: FORTHCOMING in Gray, K. & Graham, J. (Eds.), The Atlas of Moral Psychology
Authors:   Jamil Zaki
Department of Psychology, Stanford University

What is empathy’s role in driving moral behavior? Here I argue that empathy is a noisy
but useful moral compass, and in particular that
  •  (i) empathy’s limits in guiding morality often reflect empathizer’s motives, not their capacities, 
  • (ii) motivating people to empathize can overcome these limits, and
  •  (iii) empathy lends affective “force” to morality, such that empathy-based moral behavior produces benefits that other forms of moral action do not.
While this paper is not specifically on training empathy, it addresses the motivation for people to empathize. What is the underlying motivation people will have to be empathic, want to train in being more empathic and generally raise their empathy level.

Topic Area:
 (In which field / sector / perspective was this study conducted?)

(How was empathy defined?)

(Were any benefits of empathy mentioned?)

 (What were the methods used to train empathy?)
 Jamil talks about a motivated model of empathy. Can we increase peoples motivation to be empathic?

"In many cases, people fail to empathize not because they are incapable of doing so, but because they are unmotivated to share, understand, or generate concern for others’ internal lives. As such, interventions should complement training in empathic skills with “psychological levers” (Miller & Prenctice, 2010) that can build people’s desire to empathize in the first place."
"A small but growing number of interventions focus on building empathy across settings including
  •  medical training (Riess, Kelley, Bailey, Dunn, & Phillips, 2012), 
  • education (Şahin, 2012), 
  • conflict resolution (Todd & Galinsky, 2014), 
  • and the treatment of clinical populations in which empathy is impaired, such as autism spectrum disorders (Golan & Baron-Cohen, 2006; Hadwin, Baron-Cohen, Howlin, & Hill, 1996). 
The majority of these interventions focus on two strategies: building empathic skills such as emotion recognition, and inducing people to think more about social targets."

Target Group:  
(Who participated in this study / training?)
  • general population

About the assessment: How was the change in empathy measured before/after the intervention/method?) 

(What was the result?)

Posted By:   Edwin Rutsch
(Any other relevant information)


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