Daniel Messinger, a professor of psychology at the University of Miami, co-wrote a 2011 paper titled, “The Development of Empathy: How, When, and Why.” He said in a phone interview that empathy is putting yourself in somebody else’s emotional shoes and having a sense of what they are experiencing.
One of his paper’s themes illustrates that an important part of social and emotional development is empathy, often a result of one’s childhood environment.
But empathy can be easily learned, he said. There are times in life when people naturally want to be empathetic and times when they don’t, he added. Finding the balance is key.
As Mr. Gibson says, “How do you be empathetic, but not let that person off the hook?”