The Two Types of Empathy Pinpointed In The Brain – PsyBlog

Two different types of empathy can be seen operating in the brain, a new study finds.

The two types are emotional empathy and rational empathy.

  • Emotional empathy is when you feel someone else’s emotions yourself.
  • Rational empathy is when you try to understand someone else’s emotions intellectually.

Mr Robert Eres, who led the study, said:

  • “People who are high on affective [or emotional] empathy are often those who get quite fearful when watching a scary movie, or start crying during a sad scene.
  • Those who have high cognitive empathy are those who are more rational, for example a clinical psychologist counselling a client.”

Researchers found that people with higher gray matter density in the insula — an area important for the emotions — displayed more emotional empathy.