Topic 2: Empathy

Empathy is the ability to understand the emotions, needs and concerns of others. It includes:

  • attention to emotional cues and listening to them;
  • displaying sensitivity and understanding of the point of view of others;
  • helping others, based on the understanding of their needs and feelings.

Empathy means to care for and understand the emotional experiences of other people. It also means to ‘wear the shoes’ of someone else, that is to understand the perspective of someone else. Empathy is a basic of human behavior. The development of the science of human behaviour assumes that empathy is innate. Research during the 80’s of last century, made in Michigan University challenges this assumption by showing that the level of empathy decreased over the past 30 years before the research.  The increase of social exclusion through the increased use of electronic communication is one of the theories used to explain this conclusion.