Survival of the Most Empathetic

Research shows that empathetic people will be more successful at navigating social situations in the long-term. Intellectual empathy allows them to understand a bully better, and gives them sense of control over the situation.


They have better interpersonal relationships, and they stay married (Davis, 1987; Paleari et al 2004). They end up being better bosses, more effective leaders (Kellett, 2006; Long, 1973), and they make better life decisions because the future doesn’t blow their minds. They may even be richer. Even if they got beat up in the hallway.

Lucky for us, intellectual empathy is a simple, rational thought process. And unlike emotional empathy, it’s a deductive power that can be taught (Iannotti, 1978). As parents, we have to start by teaching our children the basics: What does this person think? How does this person feel? What is this person likely to do? We can start by valuing simply not “being nasty” (Ewart et al 1990). Then we can make the leap to cultivating active compassion in our kids.

by Erin Clabough, Ph.D.,