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Empathy Is Actually a Choice

Stashed in: Practice, Emotion, Personality, Empathy, Awesome, Compassion, Power!, Give and Take, Self-Actualization, Compassion, @emmaseppala, Growth Mindset, Empathy

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Likewise, in another recent study, the psychologists Karina Schumann, Jamil Zaki and Carol S. Dweck found that when people learned that empathy was a skill that could be improved — as opposed to a fixed personality trait — they engaged in more effort to experience empathy for racial groups other than their own. Empathy for people unlike us can be expanded, it seems, just by modifying our views about empathy.

Some kinds of people seem generally less likely to feel empathy for others — for instance, powerful people. An experimentconducted by one of us, Michael Inzlicht, along with the researchers Jeremy Hogeveen and Sukhvinder Obhi, found that even people temporarily assigned to high-power roles showed brain activity consistent with lower empathy.

But such experimental manipulations surely cannot change a person’s underlying empathic capacity; something else must be to blame. And other researchsuggests that the blame lies with a simple change in motivation: People with a higher sense of power exhibit less empathy because they have less incentive to interact with others.

Empathy is like a muscle -- it gets stronger when exercised. 

Empathy is like a skill -- a person who practices it gets better at it. 

Empathy is nourishment and sustenance for the spirit

If only we could get more people to understand that. 

By the way, Carol Dweck is the woman who espouses Growth Mindset. 

I wonder if she thinks empathy can be taught classroom style?

Yes but I can't find anything that indicates that she teaches an empathy class.

Or if there's even such thing as an empathy class. 

Isn't there a PW stash about teaching disadvantaged schoolchildren empathy?

Thanks for both of those links. I had forgotten those!

So yes, empathy can be taught in class. 

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