Empathy as a choice 3: “Growing” empathy | The Moral Universe, Scientific American Blog Network

For the last few weeks, I’ve written about a simple idea: far from being automatic,empathy often requires a choice to engage with others’ emotions.  This choice, in turn, depends on would-be empathizers’ desire to connect with others even when doing so is painful or costly.  I think a “choice model” can change how we view many key features of empathy (for instance, its failures in disorders such as autism).  In closing this 3-part series, I want to consider another implication: concerning how we might intervene to “grow” people’s empathy….

 

A flurry of recent interventions has been targeted at answering this question.  Such interventions often rest on the popular model I’ve contested in these posts, under which empathy comprises (i) skill at understanding others’ emotions, and (ii) automatic tendencies to share those emotions. …

 

A “choice model” totally reframes this discussion, and suggests that instead of trying to make people better at empathizing, interventions should focus on making empathy more desirable….

 

by Jamil Zaki is an assistant professor of psychology at Stanford University, 

 

Culture of Empathy Builder Page: Jamil Zaki http://j.mp/10w0wE7

 

 [frame empathy as being socially desirable and people will be motivated to be more empathic.]