Empathy, belonging and the UK-EU question

Cognitive neuroscience research on belonging has a lot to teach us on the fundamental processes that will make or break not only UK-EU relations but the entire European project…


Empathy with the experiences, desires, and demands of the mosaic of actors that constitute any polity – especially a multi-national, multi-level polity such as the EU – has a key role to play in creating the conditions for societal cohesion.

Empathy is an important feature in sustaining effective social interaction. Identifying shared ground is the bread and butter of daily living, while the ability to appreciate the emotional states of a counterpart deepens social relationships. Empathy for another’s happiness or suffering, from this perspective, depends on recognising that the other has a mind – effectively, the same capacity for thought, emotion, desire, intention, and self-awareness as ourselves.