Many people believe they absorb the emotions of the people they meet. But are they feeling the same thing?
Empathy research divides the phenomenon into three empathic subtypes: emotional, cognitive, and motivational. The idea is that when you see someone else experiencing emotion, you respond in one of three ways: You catch their emotional state yourself (emotional empathy), think about what they’re feeling and why (cognitive empathy), or feel compelled toward some action (motivational empathy, alternately known as compassion or empathic concern).
Empaths seem to experience a heightened, perhaps debilitating level of emotional empathy, taking on the pain and joy of other people to excess.