In a previous post, I asked, “How universal is empathy?” The question is tricky because empathy has three components:
1. pro-social behavior – willingness to help people out, hospitality to strangers, acts of compassion.
2. cognitive empathy – capacity to see things from another person’s perspective and to understand how he or she feels.
3. affective or emotional empathy – capacity not only to understand how another person feels but also to experience those feelings involuntarily and to respond appropriately. Failure to help a person in distress can trigger a self-destructive sequence: anguish, depression, suicidal ideation.