Developing sense of self may help individuals be more empathetic

Empathy, or the ability to identify with others’ feelings, often is considered an important relational skill. Previously, researchers had hypothesized that in order for individuals to be empathetic, they needed to be selfless.

However, University of Missouri researchers found just the opposite: individuals who were more self-aware had higher levels of empathy.

Using MRI scans of individuals’ brains, the researchers found empathetic individuals had increased functioning in the part of their brains associated with their sense of self. Creating interventions that help individuals develop their sense of self may help them become more empathetic, the researchers said.

by Jesslyn Chew