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International Online Conference on:
How Might We Build a Culture of Empathy?
Permanently Ongoing

Sub Conference: How to Build a Culture of Empathy with Science and Academics

Different Faces of Empathy:
feelings of similarity disrupt recognition

Jacob Israelashvili

 Jacob Israelashvili did his PhD in Social Psychology at Tel Aviv University.  His research examines the empathic processes that antecedent understanding and caring for others. Jacob recently coauthored a study and paper entitled: Different faces of empathy: Feelings of similarity disrupt recognition of negative emotions.  In this interview we talk about that study.

Some Highlights of the Study.

  • Recognition of emotions becomes less accurate when having had similar negative experiences.

  • Personal distress evoked by a negative story inhibits recognition of the storyteller's emotions.

  • Being instructed to take another's perspective does not help to recognize emotions better.

Sub Conferences: Science


Does Empathy have Dark Sides or is it all Light?

Fritz Breithaupt

Fritz Breithaupt is Provost Professor at Indiana University Bloomington. He founded and directs the Experimental Humanities Laboratory at IU. He is author of the book, The Dark Sides of Empathy.

Fritz argues that some of the dark sides of empathy include; self-loss, side taking, identifying with the helper, sadistic empathy and vampiristic empathy. Edwin argues that empathy is light and the so-called dark sides are not empathy, but blocks to empathy.

Fritz says (and Edwin agrees) that a benefit of empathy is;


 "Empathy intensifies our experiences and widens the scope of our perceptions. We feel more than we could with-out it, and it enables us to participate more fully in the lives of others, even fictional characters."


 "Empathy is, of course, a critical factor in healthy long-term relationships, too, making it easier for us to understand our family members or romantic partners and anticipate their emotional needs and reactions. Love without empathy would be a sad thing for most people."

Sub Conferences: Science


Building Social and Cultural Empathy
Elizabeth  Segal


Elizabeth A. Segal is a social policy analyst with a background in professional social work. She currently holds the position of Professor in the School of Social Work at Arizona State University. Dr. Segal's current research is on social empathy, the application of empathic insights into creating better social welfare policies and programs. She has begun work on creating a compendium of methods to teach social empathy and an instrument to measure people's inclination towards social empathy.

Elizabeth is author of many books, including;
   * Social Empathy: The Art of Understanding Others
   * Assessing Empathy.
   * An Introduction to the Profession of Social Work.


Our ability to understand others and help others understand us is essential to our individual and collective well-being. Yet there are many barriers that keep us from walking in the shoes of others: fear, skepticism, and power structures that separate us from those outside our narrow groups.


 To progress in a multicultural world and ensure our common good, we need to overcome these obstacles. Our best hope can be found
 in the skill of empathy.

Sub Conferences: Science

Contemporary Perspectives on Empathy,
Compassion and Self-Compassion

Chad Woodruff

Chad Woodruff is a Cognitive Neuroscientist who uses neuroimaging techniques  to investigate social and cognitive processes. Chad has had extensive experience as a graduate student, post-doctoral fellow, and an assistant professor with neuroimaging and has mentored undergraduate students in the use of these techniques for 10 years.

He is co-editor of, The Neuroscience of Empathy, Compassion, and Self-Compassion. The book provides contemporary perspectives on the three related domains of empathy, compassion and self-compassion.


It informs current research, stimulates further research endeavors, and encourages continued and creative philosophical and scientific inquiry into the critical societal constructs of empathy and compassion.


Sub Conferences: Science

Developing an Empathic Way of Being
with Emotion-Focused Therapy

Robert Elliott

Robert Elliott is Professor of Counselling in the Counselling Unit at the University of Strathclyde, where he directs its research clinic and teaches counselling research and emotion-focused therapy. A professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of Toledo (Ohio), he is co-author of several books.

He previously co-edited Psychotherapy Research, and Person-Centered Counseling and Psychotherapies, and is a Fellow in the Divisions of Humanistic Psychology, Psychotherapy, and Clinical Psychology of the American Psychological Association. He also teaches workshops about empathy around the world.



"Psychotherapist empathy has had a long and sometimes stormy history in psychotherapy. Proposed and codified by Rogers and his followers in the 1940's and 1950's, it was put forward as the foundation of helping skills training popularized in the 1960's and early 1970's."

Sub Conferences: Science

  Entangled Empathy: From an Ethics of Justice to an Ethics of Empathy
Lori Gruen

Lori Gruen is Professor of Philosophy, Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and Environmental Studies at Wesleyan University where she also coordinates Wesleyan Animal Studies. Her work lies at the intersection of ethical theory and practice, with a particular focus on issues that impact those often overlooked in traditional ethical investigations, e.g. women, people of color, non-human animals. She has published extensively on topics in animal ethics, ecofeminism, and practical ethics more broadly.  Lori is author of, Entangled Empathy, An Alternative Ethic for Our Relationships with Animals.


"Empathy is also something we are taught to "get over" or grow

out of. We learn to quash our caring reactions for others, and

our busy lives and immediate preoccupations provide

 excuses for not developing empathy."


Edward Hicks - The Peaceable Kingdom (Wikipedia)

From the book description, "In Entangled Empathy, scholar and activist Lori Gruen argues that rather than focusing on animal "rights," we ought to work to make our relationships with animals right by empathetically responding to their needs, interests, desires, vulnerabilities, hopes, and unique perspectives. Pointing out that we are already entangled in complex and life-altering relationships with other animals, Gruen guides readers through a new way of thinking about - and practicing - animal ethics."

Sub Conferences: Science

Empathy and Morality: Heidi Maibom and Edwin Rutsch

Heidi L. Maibom is professor of philosophy at University of Cincinnati. She studied at University of Copenhagen, University of Bologna, and University College London, and has held fellowships at Cambridge and Princeton Universities. She works on folk psychology, empathy, responsibility, and psychopathy. Heidi is the editor and contributor to the book, Empathy and Morality. She wrote the first chapter titled, Introduction: Everything you ever wanted to know about empathy.


Empathy and Morality, the book publisher's description: "This collection is dedicated to the question of the importance of these capacities to morality. It brings together twelve original papers in philosophy, psychology, psychiatry, anthropology, and neuroscience to give a comprehensive overview of the issue and includes an extensive survey of empathy and empathy-related emotions.


Some contributors argue that empathy is essential to core cases of moral judgments, others that empathic concern and moral considerations give rise to wholly distinct motives. Contributors look at such issues as the absence of empathy in psychopaths, the use of empathy training for rehabilitating violent offenders, and the presence of empathy in other primates. The volume is distinctive in focusing on the moral import of empathy and sympathy."

Sub Conferences: Science

For & Against Empathy: Is Empathy Necessary for Morality? Jesse Prinz & Edwin Rutsch

Jesse Prinz is Distinguished Professor at City University of New York, Graduate Center. He says "I work primarily in the philosophy of psychology, broadly construed. I am interested in how the mind works. I think philosophical accounts of the mental can be fruitfully informed by findings from psychology, the neurosciences, anthropology, and related fields. My theoretical convictions are unabashedly empiricist. I hope to resuscitate core claims of British Empiricism against the backdrop of contemporary philosophy of mind and cognitive science."


Jesse wrote a couple of papers critical of empathy titled, 'Against Empathy' and 'Is Empathy Necessary for Morality?'  His work has been referenced by other articles critical of empathy like 'The Baby in the Well, The case against empathy' by Paul Bloom in The New Yorker and 'The Limits of Empathy' by David Brooks in the New York Times.

In this engaging interview-dialog, Edwin Rutsch empathizes with Jesse about the problems he sees with empathy and replies to some of the criticisms.  Jesses says, "empathy is prone to biases that render it potentially harmful. Another construct—concern—fares somewhat better, but it is also of limited use. I argue that, instead of empathy, moral judgments involve emotions such as anger, disgust, guilt, and admiration. These, not empathy, provide the sentimental foundation for morality."

Sub Conferences: Science: Philosophy

Denise Cummins: What's Wrong With Empathy?

Denise Dellarosa Cummins is a retired Adjunct Professor of Psychology and Philosophy, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research interests include the evolution and development of higher cognition in artificial and biological systems. Her experimental investigations focus on Causal Cognition, Social Cognition, and Moral Cognition.
Denise is an author and contributor to several books including, Good Thinking and The Other Side of Psychology. She wrote an article tiled What's Wrong With Empathy, as a response to 'The Case Against Empathy' by Paul Bloom in The New Yorker.

She writes, "To most of us, the idea that empathy is a good thing is a no brainer. The more we empathize with the plight of others, the more ethical and moral we behave towards them. Yet a number of psychologists and philosophers reject this view....

Some experts believe empathy leads to bad moral judgments and bad social policy... The desire to censure empathy stems from the belief that empathy and other emotions necessarily lead to anarchy and retributive justice, while reason necessarily leads to order and good judgment. Yet sufficient evidence from the annals of human history plainly shows that reason, untempered by empathy, is just as likely to lead to tyranny and genocide as it is to lead to good judgment. When compassion and reason are decoupled, judgment is not improved. Instead, the door is opened to inhumane practices."
Sub Conferences: Science

Olga Klimecki & Edwin Rutsch: Dialogs on Building Empathy & Compassion

Olga Klimecki did her PhD with Tania Singer at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, and at the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, Germany. She is interested in understanding the neural mechanisms that shape our social emotions in adaptive ways. In several longitudinal studies, she examined how far training social emotions, like compassion and empathy, changes affective experience, prosocial behaviour, and neural function (as measured by fMRI).

In January 2013, Olga started as a postdoctoral researcher at the Swiss Center for Affective Sciences in Geneva, Switzerland. The goal of the current project is to investigate the elicitation, expression and regulation of anger. 


In our dialog we discussed different definitions of empathy, sympathy, compassion, personal distress, compassion fatigue and empathy fatigue. People use these various terms differently and interchangeably. This causes a great deal of confusion and misunderstanding.  We also explored dealing with personal distress  and how to develop personal resilience by using mindfulness practices, empathic listening and empathy circles.
Sub Conferences: Science

Study: Brain research shows psychopathic criminals do not lack empathy, but fail to use it automatically
Christian Keysers & Edwin Rutsch


Christian Keysers is professor and group leader of the Social Brain Lab at the University Medical Center Groningen in the Netherlands. The lab explores the biological nature and neuroscience of empathy. Christian is author of 'The Empathic Brain: How the Discovery of Mirror Neurons Changes our Understanding of Human Nature'.

Christian discusses his teams new findings.
"A brain imaging study in the Netherlands shows individuals with psychopathy have reduced empathy while witnessing the pains of others. When asked to empathize, however, they can activate their empathy." ScienceDaily .
Sub Conferences: Science and

Wynn Schwartz: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy

Wynn Schwartz a clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst offering psychotherapy, consultation and supervision in Boston for more than thirty years. He is professor on the core faculty of the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology and on the faculty of Harvard Medical School. He supervises trainee psychotherapists at The Cambridge Hospital.

Wynn has written several articles about empathy. He says, "Empathy involves the accurate communication of an appreciation of another person's ongoing intentional actions in a fashion that the other person can tolerate. This appreciation requires understanding the other person's view of their world and of their place in it. Empathy is an ordinary feature of life, a natural aspect of the unfolding improvisation of our linked behaviors. We act together from our understanding of what the other is trying to do."
Sub Conferences: Science

 David Howe: Empathy: What It Is and Why It Matters!

David Howe is currently an Emeritus Professor in the School of Social Work and Psychology at the  University of East Anglia.  After an early career as a child care officer and social worker, in 1976 David Howe began his present career as a university researcher and teacher. His research and writing interests span social work theory, adoption, emotional intelligence, attachment theory, and child abuse and neglect.

To date, David has written 17 books, many of them regarded as best-sellers. He is author of Empathy: What it is and why it matters.  "Empathy is key to good relationships. In its absence, behavior becomes puzzling, even dangerous. David Howe's fascinating new book examines what empathy is, why we have it and how it develops. He explores the important part empathy plays in child development and therapeutic work as well as its significance for how society organizes itself."
Sub Conference: Science

Abigail Marsh: Psychopathy, Fear & How to Build a Culture of Empathy

Abigail Marsh is a professor at Georgetown University. Her area of expertise includes social and affective neuroscience, particularly understanding emotions such as empathy and how they relate to aggression, altruism, violence and psychopathy. Her research is aimed at understanding aspects of human social interactions, emotional functioning, and empathy using cognitive neuroscience methods, with a particular focus on emotion and nonverbal communication. 

 Her research also includes studies with adolescents and adults that incorporate neuroimaging, cognitive and behavioral testing, and pharmacology techniques.  Abigail also teaches a course titled  "Empathy, Altruism, & Aggression." The course addresses such questions as; Are humans innately selfish or empathic? What do we mean when we say empathy? Do selfish or empathic behaviors succeed best in the long term?  What is a psychopath? "
Sub Conference: Science

Marco Iacoboni and Edwin Rutsch: How to Build a Culture of Empathy

Marco Iacoboni is Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences and Director of the Marco Iacoboni Lab, UCLA Brain Mapping Center at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is author of, Mirroring People: The New Science of Empathy and How We Connect with Others.

"Empathy plays a fundamental role in our social lives. It allows us to share emotions, experiences, needs, and goals. Not surprisingly, there is much empirical evidence suggesting a strong link between between mirror neurons (or some general forms of neuronal mirroring) and empathy."  


In this interview, Marco Iacoboni challenges the traditional Western understanding of human nature as selfish and struggling for surviving and suggests that neurologically and evolutionally we are predispositioned to create empathic connections. A culture of empathy can be increased by: 

  • becoming aware about our biological capacity for empathy through mirror neurons, 

  • having intention to increase culture empathy, 

  • creating more empathic living environment 

  • decreasing the focus on differences and labeling 

  • increasing the focus on us (similarities)

  • increasing empathic behavior of governments, leaders and media....

Empathy Definitions, Measurements & Metrics: Marco Iacoboni, Lidewij Niezink, Edwin Rutsch
In this second interview, Marco Iacoboni, Lidewij Niezink and Edwin Rutsch discuss Definitions, Measurements & Metrics of Empathy.  Marco says, "I think what's interesting to me most is to define metrics of empathy. How can I measure this thing?  Why it matters? If we want to design interventions to improve empathy we need to agree upon ways of quantifying it. People do get bogged down in debates on definitions and don't even get to the point of trying to discuss metrics of empathic behavior. This slows down progress, I think"
Sub Conference: Science

Michael Slote: How to Build a Culture of Empathy with an Ethics of Care

Michael Slote is Professor of Ethics. He has taught at Columbia University, Trinity College, Dublin, and the University of Maryland, where he was department chair for many years. He has written many articles in philosophy of mind, ethics, and political philosophy.



He is also author of many books including: The Ethics of Care and Empathy. This book makes use of the recent psychology literature on empathy to develop a version of care ethics that applies to both personal and political morality.


In this dialog we went through Michael's book and discussed it chapter by chapter.  Michael says, "Care ethicists often speak about empathy and its role in caring attitudes and relationships, but they haven't stressed empathy to anything like the extent that I shall be doing here. I shall, for example, be making use of the recent literature of psychology to argue that empathy is the primary mechanism of caring, benevolence, compassion, etc...  I argue further, that caring motivation is based in and sustained by our human capacity for empathy with others."

Sub Conference: Science

Helen Weng: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy

Helen Weng is currently a doctoral student in clinical psychology studying the Department of Psychology, Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior, and Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin - Madison.  Her long-term goals include studying how interventions that increase love and compassion impact both psychological and physical health in patients, and how training these qualities in health care providers can prevent burnout and improve patient outcomes.

Helen conducted a study titled,  Compassion Training Alters Altruism and Neural Responses to Suffering. "Compassion is a key motivator of altruistic behavior, but little is known about individuals’ capacity to cultivate compassion through training. We examined whether compassion may be systematically trained by testing whether (a) short-term compassion training increases altruistic behavior and (b) individual differences in altruism are associated with training-induced changes in neural responses to suffering. "

Sub Conference: Science

 Lou Agosta: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy

Lou Agosta is on the faculty of the Illinois School of Professional Psychology. He practices psychotherapy in the Chicago. His area of concentration includes the dynamic containing and transforming of domestic violence and intimate partner abuse.

Lou is author of Empathy in the Context of Philosophy which is an exploration of the deep structure of empathy as a fundamentally human capability for creating possibilities of community and human relations. He also writes extensively about the nature of empathy on his website

"The short definition of empathy is that it is the capacity to know what an other individual is experiencing because (speaking in the first person for emphasis) I experience it too, not as a merger but as a trace affect or experience that samples the other’s experience. Thus, if one is overwhelmed by the other’s trauma and re-traumatized, one is not using one’s empathy properly. Simply stated, you are doing it wrong. "
Sub Conference: Science

Vivian Bohl: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy

Vivian Bohl is an Estonian philosopher at Tartu University. She is a PhD student and her doctoral work is in the field of social cognition. We talked about the definitions of Empathy. She says,  "Defining empathy has always been a tricky issue and up to now, the conceptual issues surrounding 'empathy' are causing more and more confusion in scientific and philosophical literature. It's about time someone did something to solve these complex conceptual issues. I see that in your project, you are also interested in compassion. This is a very important empathy-related topic, in my opinion.

For me, the best definition of compassion is a Buddhist definition: it is the wish to alleviate the suffering of others and to eliminate the causes for suffering. Since I'm quite happy with that definition, we could discuss what this definition exactly means and also talk about how to become a more compassionate person."
Sub Conference: Science

Sylvia Morelli: How to Build a Culture of Empathy

Sylvia Morelli is a Postdoctoral Fellow at Stanford Social Neuroscience Lab at Stanford University. In her current research, she examines the neural and behavioral basis of empathy and perspective-taking, as well as the neural responses associated with feeling understood by others.


We held a wide ranging discussion about the nature of empathy, and her work on researching it.  In a recent study and paper, Sylvia explored the neural and behavioral consequences of feeling understood. 

Sylvia says, when we are understood, or empathized with, the pleasure centers of the brain light up. In other words, being empathized with feels good. "Behavioral research has demonstrated that feeling understood by others enhances social closeness and intimacy, as well as subjective well-being. In contrast, feeling misunderstood can be harmful to social relationships, leading to loneliness and isolation. However, it is still unclear why and how felt understanding exerts such a powerful impact on both interpersonal and intrapersonal well-being" 
Sub Conference: Science: Neuroscience

 Maureen O'Hara: How to Build a Culture of Empathy  

Maureen O'Hara is Professor in the Psychology Department at National University, La Jolla, CA and President Emerita of Saybrook Graduate School, San Francisco. Working with American psychologist Carl R. Rogers, she helped develop the Person-Centered Approach to psychotherapy and large group process.  

More recently her writings have examined the relationship between the "big picture" changes underway and internal psychological adaptation. Combining her background as psychotherapist, organizational consultant and futurist, Maureen is a frequent keynote speaker nationally and internationally on the evolution of new ways of being in a changing world.  She was a contributor to the book, ' Empathy Reconsidered: New Directions in Psychotherapy' .


She writes, "In Rogers' original work a key component of the core facilitative conditions for individual growth is empathy. Empathy has since been shown to be the gold standard for effective facilitation in any growth-focused relationship. Empathy is commonly regarded as an individual-to-individual phenomenon in which one person senses the unspoken or inchoate thoughts or feelings of another. Our observations show that group or relational empathy may be even more important than individual empathy in the formation of conscious communities."
Sub Conference: Science

Dan Zahavi: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy

Dan Zahavi is a Professor in the Department of Media, Cognition, and Communication at the University of Copenhagen, where he specializes in the social dimension of self-experience; the nature of empathy and its relevance for social cognition; the relation between phenomenology and naturalism; selfhood and unity of consciousness with particular focus on no-self doctrines. Dan is the director of the Danish National Research Foundation’s Center for Subjectivity Research.

The center has a grant for an "Empathy and Interpersonal Understanding" project that runs from 2011 to 2015.  The aim of the project is to contribute to investigate two questions:

1) What is empathy and what role does it play in interpersonal understanding?

2) To what extent does interpersonal understanding presuppose a common social and cultural background?

Dan has written numerous articles on the nature of empathy and the center is hosting workshops and conferences on the topic. One conference being held in May 2013, is on the "Phenomenology of Empathy".    Sub Conference: Science

Aurangzeb Haneef: How to Build a Culture of Empathy in Pakistan

Aurangzeb Haneef is a religious scholar and teacher in the Department of Humanities & Social Sciences, Lahore University of Management Sciences in Pakistan.  He completed a Masters of Theological Studies at Harvard University. Earlier, at two universities in Austria and Spain he completed an International Master in Peace, Conflict and Development Studies with a focus on Religion/Islam and Peacebuilding.

In this dialog and interview, we talked about the role of empathy as being foundational to peace building. In Pakistan there is great polarization between the conservative and liberal social factions and they are not talking to each other with empathy. Aurangzeb sees empathy as being central to the the peace building process and he works to create dialog between the different social factions in his classes.
Sub Conference: Science

Ian Reifowitz: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy

Ian Reifowitz teaches history at Empire State College of the State University of New York. He is the author of, Obama's America: A Transformative Vision of Our National Identity

In his article, Obama Calls for Empathy in Israel, Ian writes, "President Obama gave an absolutely terrific speech yesterday in Israel.

 The key section of the speech occurred when the president declared that Israelis need to truly understand how Palestinians see the conflict differently than they do. Obama urged them to "put yourself in their shoes. Look at the world through their eyes...  In this piece, I want to point out that this concept of putting oneself in the shoes of one's opponent or even just someone different from oneself, i.e., empathy, is at the heart of Obama's entire worldview...

He has drawn on the idea of empathy repeatedly as part of his push to encourage and invigorate ties across lines of race, culture, religion, region, etc. in this country. As I've written in my book Obama's America: A Transformative Vision of Our National Identity, empathy is thus central to his call to strengthen our sense of being one American people.
In The Audacity of Hope Obama spoke of empathy as being "at the heart of my moral code" and defined it as "a call to stand in somebody else's shoes and see through their eyes."
Sub Conference: Science

Sara Konrath: How to Build a Culture of Empathy

Sara Konrath is Assistant Research Professor at the Research Center for Group Dynamics at the University of Michigan. Sara is the Principal Investigator of the Interdisciplinary Program on Empathy and Altruism Research (iPEAR) which is a research lab with a primary focus on the costs and benefits of empathy and related traits (e.g. emotional intelligence, narcissism) and behaviors (e.g. helping, caregiving). They examine the causes, consequences, and changes in such topics from a variety of perspectives, including psychophysiological and neurological.  

She writes; "Imaginatively taking on another person's thoughts and identifying with their emotions are two habits at the core of empathy. In fact, empathy is not a fixed trait like having brown eyes or long fingers. Empathy is instead a delicate cocktail blending assorted elements of inborn aptitude, social conditioning, personal history, and practice and motivation.


The ability to empathize is like a muscle capable of growth, atrophy, disability, and even regeneration (think Scrooge). People have different innate capacities for building certain muscles, just as we have different incentives for being empathetic and experiences in honing our skills to empathize. For some people, empathy comes easily and naturally; for others, concerted effort is required to stretch our imaginations beyond ourselves."


We held an engaging two hour discussion about the nature of empathy and how to foster it.
Sub Conference: Science

Jodi Halpern: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy in Health Care

Jodi Halpern is Associate Professor of Bioethics and Medical Humanities at the University of California, Berkeley, in the Joint Medical Program and the School of Public Health. As a psychiatrist with a background in philosophy, she investigates how emotions and the imagination shape healthcare decisions of clinicians and patients.

Jodi is author of From Detached Concern to Empathy: Humanizing Medical Practice

Clinical Empathy: "As a psychiatrist as well as a faculty member in bioethics at UC Berkeley for almost two decades, I’ve investigated what happens to patients when their doctors show a lack of empathy. Doctors were trained to believe that emotional detachment from patients is personally and professionally necessary, but experience shows that patients don’t trust doctors who are aloof or superficially friendly. Yet, only recently have studies proven just how harmful detachment and how beneficial empathy is for healing...."
Sub Conference: Health Care  and Science

Panel 21: Philosophy and Empathy
  Anthony I. Jack
Joshua Knobe
Philip Robbins
Edwin Rutsch
This panel brings together three leading researchers in the emerging field of experimental philosophy: a field which uses the experimental methods of the cognitive and social sciences to shed light on philosophical problems. This is a free ranging discussion of recent research and work in progress.
We discuss how our conception of the minds of others relates to empathy of various types, with a particular focus on empathy in the sense of compassion. The discussion touches on dehumanization, objectification, and how empathy relates to our tendency to see minds as embodied, as able to feel different kinds of emotion, and as possessing autonomy or free will.
Sub Conference: Science

 Panel 19: The Challenge of Balancing Analysis and Empathy


Anthony Jack
Helen Riess
Richard Boyatzis
Edwin Rutsch

Recent evidence shows that adopting an analytic frame of mind suppresses brain areas involved in empathy, and emotionally engaging with others suppresses brain areas involved in analytic thought. This presents a challenge for contexts that require both forms of thought.

Managers, teachers and doctors all have professional roles in which optimal performance depends both on a capacity for clear analytic thought, and on their ability to emotionally resonate with others. This panel brings together three experts in the neuroscience of empathy and how to train it. They discuss the challenges involved in fostering a balance between empathy and analysis in professional life, and suggest solutions.
Sub Conference: Science

Louise Grant: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy

Louise Grant is Senior Lecturer in Social Work at the University of Bedfordshire. Louise has been studying the role of empathy in fostering resilience in social workers in the UK.

She says, "My teaching interests are in children and families social work and in particular in developing reflective practice for effective social work and developing supervision knowledge and skills in social workers. My research focus is on reflective practice and developing emotional resilience for social work practice"

Louise is co-author of the study, 'Exploring Stress Resilience in Trainee Social Workers: The Role of Emotional and Social Competencies'. In order to inform the development of interventions to enhance the work-related well-being of early career social workers, this study examined several emotional and social competencies (i.e. emotional intelligence, reflective ability, empathy and social competence) as predictors of resilience in 240 trainees.

Sub Conferences: Health Care and Science

Issidoros Sarinopoulos: How to Build a Culture of Empathy Without Pain

Issidoros Sarinopoulos (Sid) is Assistant Professor of Psychology at Michigan State University where he is director of the Lab for Social and Affective Neuroscience.  Sid's research interests include the psychological and neural underpinnings of emotion, judgment, decision making, and social behavior.

His work integrates the theories and methods of affective and social neuroscience on the one hand, and more traditional disciplines in the social sciences on the other.

Sid was part of a study looking at how an empathic doctor-patient relationship reduces patients pain.  Listen up, doc: Empathy raises patients’ pain tolerance "A doctor-patient relationship built on trust and empathy doesn’t just put patients at ease – it actually changes the brain’s response to stress and increases pain tolerance, according to new findings from a Michigan State University research team."
Sub Conferences: Health Care and Science


 Chad Posick: How to Build a Culture of Empathy in Criminal Justice System

Chad Posick has a B.S. degree in criminal justice and an M.S. degree in public policy from the Rochester Institute of Technology. He just finished his Ph.D in criminal justice from Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. He has worked with Project Safe Neighborhoods in the Western District of New York as well as the Department of Criminal Justice Service’s Project Impact. His research areas include restorative justice, cognitive behavioral interventions and action research.

We talked about Chad's research and study: More Than a Feeling: Integrating Empathy Into the Study of Lawmaking, Lawbreaking, and Reactions to Lawbreaking. "Empathy is related, directly or indirectly, to important elements in criminology such as the enactment of harsh penalties for repeat offenders, antisocial behavior, feelings of legitimacy toward the law, and attitudes toward the death penalty. Although empathy is beginning to find its way into criminological discourse, it is still not well understood nor often incorporated into quantitative research. "

Sub Conferences: Science and Justice

 Christopher Germer and Edwin Rutsch: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy and Compassion

Christopher Germer is a clinical instructor in psychology at Harvard Medical School and a founding member of the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy. He lectures internationally on mindfulness and self-compassion, is author of The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion: Freeing Yourself from Destructive Thoughts and Emotions.

Chris is also co-editor of the Wisdom and Compassion in Psychotherapy: Deepening Mindfulness in Clinical Practice. Mindful self-compassion is the foundation of emotional healing - being aware in the present moment when we're struggling with feelings of inadequacy, despair, confusion, and other forms of stress (mindfulness) and responding with kindness and understanding (self-compassion).


To build a culture of empathy and compassion, Chris says we need to have a societal discussion about what values are really important to us.  They did this in Bhutan where they have the "gross national happiness" index.  Also, that we need to develop extensive empathy and compassion trainings. He said, the average American watches TV for 4 hours a day. What if we used that time learning about empathy and compassion? What a different world it would be.
Sub Conference: Science

Maria Seehausen & Edwin Rutsch: How to Build a Culture of Empathy with Reflective Listening

Maria Seehausen is a psychologist and neuroscientist at the Cluster of Excellence: Languages of Emotion of the Free University Berlin, where she works on her dissertation on the effects of empathic paraphrasing on emotion in social conflict. She also works as a freelance mediator, trainer and coach, and is interested in the scientific exploration of intervention techniques used in conflict resolution. Maria is lead on the study, 'Effects of empathic paraphrasing - Extrinsic emotion regulation in social conflict'.

"In the present study, we investigated the effects of empathic paraphrasing as an extrinsic emotion regulation technique in social conflict. We hypothesized that negative emotions elicited by social conflict can be regulated extrinsically in a conversation by a listener following the narrator’s perspective and verbally expressing cognitive empathy.


20 participants were interviewed on an ongoing or recently self-experienced social conflict...  it is possible that empathic paraphrasing not only leads to a reduction of negative emotion in participants, but even induces positive emotions, such as happiness and relief about being listened to and validated.'

Sub Conference: Science and Justice

Penny Spikins: How to Build a Culture of Empathy with Archaeology

Penny Spikins is Senior Lecturer in the Archaeology of Human Origins in the Department of Archaeology, University of York. One of her main areas of research is on the archaeological evidence for the evolution of empathy and compassion.  "My early research centred on Mesolithic northern England where I retain an interest and enthusiasm, although I'm best known for my later research into the emergence of autism and the evolution of empathising and compassion in the Palaeolithic."  Penny is writing a book titled, 'How Compassion Made Us Human: An archaeology of prehistoric sentiment'

We discussed;
  • why it is important that compassion was key to our evolutionary history.
  • how archaeological evidence can tell us about how compassion evolved.
  • how a capacity to put others first in modern hunter-gatherers works to help them survive, not just as a group but as individual (which helps us understand the evolutionary pressures in the stone age).
  • the building blocks of capacities to put others first in apes, and how humans take those capacities to another level.
    Sub Conference: Science

 Anthony Jack: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy

Anthony Jack, PhD (Tony) is Assistant Professor of Cognitive Science, Philosophy, and Psychology in the Brain, Mind and Consciousness laboratory in the Department of Cognitive Science at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio.

He says, "I have a PhD in Experimental Psychology and extensive training in Philosophy and Neuroscience. I started out doing largely theoretical work on consciousness, but then got interested by the emerging field of brain imaging. I use fMRI to study attention, consciousness and social processing in the brain." 

Tony has been studying empathy and was involved in a study that looks at the analytic and empathic neural networks and how they relate to each other.  This article 'Empathy represses analytic thought, and vice versa' on Science Blog says,  "When the brain fires up the network of neurons that allows us to empathize, it suppresses the network used for analysis, a pivotal study led by a Case Western Reserve University researcher shows... At rest, our brains cycle between the social and analytical networks. But when presented with a task, healthy adults engage the appropriate neural pathway, the researchers found. The study shows for the first time that we have a built-in neural constraint on our ability to be both empathetic and analytic at the same time."
Sub Conference: Science: Neuroscience

Mark Rosenblum: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy

  Mark Rosenblum is Professor of History and Director of Center for Ethnic, Racial and Religious Understanding (CERRU) at Queens College, New York. 

CERRU inspires a generation of leaders who value cross-cultural engagement, listening, and empathy to inform positive social change.

"Building Empathy - One of the goals of the program is to increase students’ ability to understand and empathize with a wide range of experience and opinion. During the dialogue sessions, our student facilitators lead groups of students in discussion regarding contentious issues on campus and in the community. Participants are encouraged to listen actively, and without judgment, even if they do not agree."
Sub Conference: Science

Paul Gilbert: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy & Compassion

Paul Gilbert is Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Derby and Director of the Mental Health Research Unit, Derbyshire Mental Health Trust. He has has authored over 20 books, including, Depression: The Evolution of Powerlessness and the The Compassionate Mind: A New Approach to Life's Challenges.

Paul says, "After years of exploring the processes underpinning shame and its role in a variety of psychopathologies, my current research is exploring the neurophysiology and therapeutic effectiveness of compassion focused therapy."  The publisher describes Compassion-focused therapy (CFT)  as "a form of psychotherapy that emphasizes the development of self-compassion in people who are prone to feelings of shame and self-criticism. Created by Paul Gilbert and his colleagues, this therapy is rooted in Mahayana Buddhist psychology, which considers compassion and mindfulness to be central to healing the mind. CFT develops four skills: compassionate attention, compassionate thinking, compassionate behavior, and compassionate feeling.

This therapy has been proven effective for the treatment of eating disorders, depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions, and can even benefit those who do not suffer from these disorders as it improves emotional regulation, distress tolerance, and nonjudgment."

In this interview, Paul and Edwin have a wide ranging discussion about shame, depression, empathy and compassion, as well as, how to foster compassion in society.
Sub Conference: Science

Daniel Siegel M.D.: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy

Daniel Siegel M.D. is a clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine and Executive Director of the Mindsight Institute. His training is in pediatrics and child, adolescent and adult psychiatry. Dan  is the author of many books on parenting, child development, Mindsight, etc.

including The Developing Mind, Second Edition: How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are and The Mindful Brain: Reflection and Attunement in the Cultivation of Well-Being.

Dan shared his understanding about the importance of empathy and how it works in the brain thought mirror neurons. "When kids are able to watch an interaction that's empathic, empathy isn't just being taught; it's being demonstrated," Talking about the importance of empathic attunement, Dan says, "When we attune with others we allow our own internal state to shift, to come to resonate with the inner world of another. This resonance is at the heart of the important sense of “feeling felt” that emerges in close relationships. Children need attunement to feel secure and to develop well, and throughout our lives we need attunement to feel close and connected."

Sub Conference: Science

Geshe Lobsang Negi: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy and Compassion

Geshe Lobsang Negi serves as Co-Director of the Emory-Tibet Science Initiative and Co-Director of the Emory Collaborative of Contemplative Studies. " In addition, he has contributed to the development of a number of programs linking Emory University with Tibetan institutions of higher learning in India. 

His career has focused on the potential of mind to affect well-being on physical, emotional an mental levels and is now centered in three areas: Clinical research on the behavioral, immune and stress impacts of contemplative practices; Developing and implementing a science curriculum for Tibetan monastics; and Teaching Tibetan Buddhism both at Emory University and Atlanta's Drepung Loseling." He is also the developer of the Cognitive-Based Compassion Training (CBCT) which draws on the the lojong tradition of Tibetan Buddhism to foster compassion. This training was studied to determine it's effectiveness in fostering empathy by Jennifer Mascaro at Emory University.
Sub Conference: Science

Jennifer Mascaro: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy and Compassion

Jenny Mascaro wrote her PH.D dissertation at Emery University on "A Longitudinal Investigation of Empathic Behavior and Neural Activity and Their Modulation by Compassion Meditation."  She studied the effectiveness of Cognitively-Based Compassion Training, which was developed by Geshe Lobsang Negi at Emory,  on deepening empathy.

Jenny says, "My interests center on the study of emotion and social cognition, particularly those emotions related to prosocial behavior.  I'm currently using various neuroimaging modalities including functional MRI and diffusion tensor imaging to explore the neurobiology related to empathy and compassion." 
Sub Conference: Science

Joshua Aaron Ginzler: How to Build a Culture of Empathy-Compassion with Education

Joshua Aaron Ginzler is a Psychologist with a focus on Mindfulness-Based Psychology which teaches that thoughts simply exist & are your brain's attempt to make sense of your emotional state & the external world.  He says, "I am establishing the only private center to bring a cadre of evidence-based Mindfulness Psychology programs to the community in order to better prepare the community to support the individuals and families that they contain. "
Sub Conference: Science

Christian Keysers: The Empathic Brain - Chapter by Chapter Book Review

Christian Keysers is professor and group leader of the Social Brain Lab at the University Medical Center Groningen in the Netherlands. The lab explores the biological nature and neuroscience of empathy.

Christian is author of 'The Empathic Brain: How the Discovery of Mirror Neurons Changes our Understanding of Human Nature'.

In this interview, Christian gives a chapter by chapter narration of the book, which explores the nut's and bolts neuroscience of empathy. In the book, he illustrates the science with his own experiences and with stories. The journey starts at the lab in Parma, Italy where mirror neurons were first discovered and where he also worked.
Sub Conference: Science: Neuroscience

Bhismadev Chakrabarti: How to Build a Culture of Empathy with Science

 Bhismadev Chakrabarti heads a research group at the Centre for Integrative Neuroscience and Neurodynamics at the University of Reading, UK. The group studies emotion perception, empathy, and autism using functional MRI, eye gaze tracking, and psychophysiology.  He works in collaboration with the Autism Research Centre at the University of Cambridge. Bhisma shared his insights into the physical nature of empathy and how we can build a culture of empathy.

"Empathy is the lens through which we view emotions in others. The highly empathic can sense others' emotions automatically, while those with lower empathy are often marked by a deficit in picking up socio-emotional cues from other people. Empathy exists in a continuum across the population, and our research here targets the following questions:
   a) how does empathy influence the perception of emotions in others and in ourselves?
   b) what are the neural and behavioral processes underlying empathy?"
Sub Conference: Science: Neuroscience

 George Lakoff: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy

George Lakoff is a cognitive linguist and professor of linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley. He is academically most famous for his 'ideas about the centrality of metaphor to human thinking, political behavior and society.' He says empathy is a  foundation of morality and of progressive values.

George is the author of many academic and politically related books.  His latest book is The Little Blue Book: The Essential Guide to Thinking and Talking Democratic. 'A compact handbook on partisan political discourse, with a blueprint for how liberals can switch from playing defense against conservatives to launching a stronger offense.' Basing the discourse on the foundational value of empathy.  "America was founded on a moral system and that system starts with empathy."
Sub Conference: Science: Neuroscience

Paul Zak: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy with Oxytocin

Paul J. Zak is Professor of Economics and Department Chair, as well as the founding Director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies at Claremont Graduate University. He is author of: The Moral Molecule: The source of love and prosperity, which  explores the relationship between Oxytocin, empathy, compassion, trust, etc.

"The Moral Molecule is a first-hand account of the discovery of a molecule that makes us moral. It reveals that compassion [and empathy] is part of our human nature, why loneliness can kill you, and why your neighbor may be a psychopath."
Sub Conference: Science

Emma Seppala: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy & Compassion

Emma Seppala originates from Paris, France and is Associate Director at the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at Stanford University. She is an Honorary Fellow at the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds in Madison, Wisconsin.

Her research areas include: Complementary & Alternative Interventions (yoga, meditation); The Science of Happiness, Health, Well-Being; Stress; Trauma; Emotion and Emotion Regulation; Compassion, Social Connectedness; Cross-Cultural Psychology. 

Sub Conference: Science

James Doty: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy & Compassion

James Doty is Stanford Clinical Professor of Neurosurgery and founding director of the Center for the Study of Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE.  'CCARE is striving to create a community of scholars and researchers, including neuroscientists, psychologists, educators and philosophical and contemplative thinkers around the study of compassion.' 

He says we have to go beyond mindfulness to a transcendent connection between people. We can get beyond loneliness,  isolation and depression to have a more sustained happiness, by contributing to the wellbeing of others.
Sub Conference: Science

Erika Rosenberg: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy with Education

Erika Rosenberg offers scientifically- and practically-based training and consultation in a wide range of areas associated with the study and/or understanding of human emotion, facial expressions of emotion, and the improvement of emotional functioning through meditation.

Erika has been practicing meditation for over 20 years. She is a senior teacher for Project Compassion at the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at Stanford University where she teaches the 9-week Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT). The training combines science, mindfulness and Compassionate Communications traditions.
Sub Conference: Science and Education 

Daniel Batson: Definitions of Empathy

Dan Batson is Professor Emeritus at the University of Kansas. His main research interests are in prosocial emotion, motivation, and behavior. He has conducted a number of experiments on empathy, on perspective taking, and on various forms of prosocial motivation.

His chapter titled,
These Things Called Empathy, in the book, The Social Neuroscience of Empathy, explores eight ways the word and concept of empathy is used. We walk through and discuss each of these in depth.
Sub Conference: Science

Frans de Waal talks with Edwin about the Nature of Empathy
How can we build a culture of empathy?
I think it is important in society, especially at the moment. Now that we have come out of this period where greed was so good. I think it is important to emphasize that there are alternative ways of looking at society. A society where solidarity is important and caring about others is important. 

The other things, that I'm not an expert on, is education and culture of course. A cultural and educational change that emphasizes empathy more. I would also warn that empathy is not invariably positive. People think that empathy is automatically a positive characteristic. Empathy can be used for bad purposes also.
Sub Conference: Science


 Marco Iacoboni: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy 

Author: Mirroring People: The New Science of Empathy and How We Connect with Others

Because mirror neurons re-create for us the distress we see on the screen. We have empathy for the fictional characters - we know how they feel - because we literally experience the same feelings ourselves. 
Sub Conference: Science: Neuroscience

 Paul Ekman talks about the Nature of Empathy and Compassion with Edwin Rutsch 
  How can we build a culture of empathy?
'The survival of the planet as we know it depends on global compassion...

If I was president, thank god I'm not, I would start a Manhattan Project on global empathy. It has the urgency of the Manhattan Project. It needs the bringing together of the best minds in the world to focus on this issue, because there is an urgency too it. I think Al Gore was right, that time is running out. We can't wait 20 or 40 years to figure out what to do with this problem."
Sub Conference: Science


Live chat with Simon Baron-Cohen: Empathy and the Science of Evil


We talk with Simon Baron-Cohen, Professor of Developmental Psychopathology and Director of the Autism Research Centre at Cambridge University.
 In his new book;
Zero Degrees of Empathy: a New Theory of Human Cruelty (UK)
The Science of Evil: On Empathy and the Origins of Cruelty (US)
he calls for a redefinition of Evil as a lack of empathy.
Sub Conference: Science


Maia Szalavitz: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy

Coauthor: Born for Love: Why Empathy Is Essential and Endangered

Empathy - fully expressed in a community of nurturing interdependent people - promotes health, creativity, intelligence, and productivity. In contrast, apathy and lack of empathy contribute to individual and societal dysfunction, inhumane ideologies, and often brutal actions.
Sub Conference: Science

 Kristin Neff Talks with Edwin about Empathy and Self-Compassion
Kristin Neff, author of Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind, talks with Edwin about the nature of empathy, self-empathy self-compassion and compassion.

"Compassion is a huge value of  mine. Now I like to use the term open-heartedness, because compassion tends to be specific to the context of suffering. Of course we want to have open hearts in the face of suffering, but also want to have open hearts in the face of joy and when we are at our bests and have great successes and achievements. Just keep our hearts open no matter what happens, positive, negative or even neutral.  Open mind and open heart, just trying to stay open."
Sub Conference: Science

 Patricia Jennings: How to Build a Culture of Empathy in Education

Patricia (Tish) Jennings is Co-Leader of the "Program on Empathy Awareness and Compassion in Education (PEACE)" at Penn State University. "The PEACE area seeks to promote health and wellbeing in children, youth and families through the scientific understanding and promotion of awareness, compassion and empathy. The program includes faculty, research associates and students whose work focuses on developing a strong multidisciplinary science in this emerging area.

PEACE supports interdisciplinary scholarly activities ranging from theoretical essays to basic research on the development of awareness, compassion and empathy, to the design and evaluation of interventions intended to foster these attributes in individuals and relationships."    Sub Conferences: Science and Education 

Joshua Davis: Empathy Report: 5th Annual Meeting - Social & Affective Neuroscience Society

Josh Davis is Term Assistant Professor at Barnard College, NY. His research deals with adaptive emotional state control and mind-body connections.  While not an expert in empathy, in this interview, Josh gives us a report on some of the latest findings about the nature of empathy from the 5th Annual Meeting of the Social & Affective Neuroscience Society.
- Symposium Session A: Empathy
- Empathy for Positive and Negative Emotions:
- Poster Session D (Empathy, Culture, Social Interaction
- Session I Empathy & Choice
Sub Conference: Science: Neuroscience


Emile Bruneau: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy


Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The scientific study of conflict resolution approaches and empathy.

Sub Conference: Science: Neuroscience


Art Markman: How to Build a Culture of Empathy with Science 

Art Markman, PhD is a cognitive scientist at the University of Texas. He writes blog entries for Psychology Today, Huffington Post, Harvard Business Review, and


Author. Smart Thinking: Three Essential Keys to Solve Problems, Innovate, and Get Things Done

"Why Empathy Makes You More Helpful. There is a lot of research suggesting that empathy  increases people’s desire to help others. Empathy is the ability to share other people’s emotion. The better able you are to feel what someone else is feeling, the more likely you are to want to help them when they are in a difficult situation. This ability also extends to animals. We are able to project feelings onto animals like dogs, and that increases our need to help them.  But, what is it about empathy that promotes the need to help?"
Sub Conference: Science

Lynne Cameron: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy

Lynne Cameron is Professor of Applied Linguistics at the Open University. Her research is in  what stops us from connecting, and how to help empathy happen. Author: Metaphor and Reconciliation: The Discourse Dynamics of Empathy in Post-Conflict Conversations. Empathy is moving into the experience of another. The opposite of empathy is being at a distance and there being blocks in the way. The best way to create empathy may be to remove the blocks and let our natural drive toward empathy happen.
Sub Conference: Science

Nadine Dolby: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy in Education
Professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, College of Education, Purdue University.

Rethinking Multicultural Education for the Next Generation: The New Empathy and Social Justice

Sub Conference: Education

Sub Conference: Science
By drawing on breakthrough research in two fields—neuroscience and animal studies—Nadine Dolby argues that empathy is an underlying element of all living beings. Dolby shows how this commonality can provide a scaffolding for building an exciting new approach to developing multicultural and global consciousness, one that has the potential to transform how our students see and relate to the world around them.  

Lidewij Niezink: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy

Lidewij hosts the Empathy and Charter for Compassion groups on Linkedin. Her Ph.D was in empathy and altruism. She is a strategic advisor, trainer and innovator, and helps organizations, groups and individuals to implement different aspects of empathic concern into their professional as well as private lives.  

How to build a culture of empathy?  Stop looking for the qualities of empathy and compassion outside of ourselves. We ALL possess these qualities already (as research is showing us). Develop and make use of the methods offered to cultivate empathy and compassion within ourselves according to what speaks to our individual minds and hearts...  Sub Conference: Science

Luisa Semedo: How to Build a Culture Based on a Morality & Ethics of Empathy

Luísa Semedo is a PhD Philosophy student at the University of Paris-Sorbonne, France. Her PhD dissertation is about Ethics of Empathy.  The aim of her interdisciplinary work is to frame a new ethics in which empathy is its foundation (contagion, empathic distress and imitation), its instrument (simulation, imagination and empathic concern) and its purpose (trust, altruism, cooperation and respect).

She says that empathy is like dreams, because in dreams we can be a different version of ourselves. In real life, empathy allows us to put ourselves in the place of others, and experienced others lives. Because of our common humanity others are a possibility of us.  The opposite of empathy is a desert island.  
Sub Conference: Science

Matthew Winslow: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy

Matthew Winslow is Associate Professor in the Psychology Department at Eastern Kentucky University. He teaches a class on empathy in the filed of psychology.

Matthew says empathy is like being an actor and the best Halloween costume ever.  He sees empathy as a skill that can be developed with practice. People need both the motivation to empathize and the ability to do so. Narcissism is the opposite of empathy because it’s the narrow focus on the self. The opposite of empathy is wearing mirrored sunglasses on backwards so you only see yourself.
Sub Conference: Science

Empathy Study: Why Republicans and Democrats can't empathize with each other?

Ed O’Brien - Graduate Student in Social Psychology, University of Michigan
Phoebe C. Ellsworth - Distinguished Professor of Law and Psychology, ISR Research Center for Group Dynamics. University of Michigan
Visceral States Are Not Projected Onto Dissimilar Others. "Our findings reveal the need for a better understanding of how people’s internal experiences influence their perceptions of the feelings and experiences of those who may hold different values from their own."
Sub Conference: Science

Tal-Chen Rabinowitch: How to Build a Culture of Empathy with Music Arts

Tal-Chen is working in Cambridge towards a PhD. Her research explores the social nature of musical group interaction in children and the ways in which it can be directed towards the long-term enhancement of emotional empathy. This work explores experimentally the effects of musical group interaction on children’s every day capacity for empathy, and in particular, the emotional impact of synchronization during musical interaction. Her research suggests that music promotes empathy.

 She says her metaphor for empathy is like closing the distance between people and merging while the opposite is distance and a wall.
Sub Conferences:
Science and Arts
Bridget Cooper 2: Building a Culture of 'Profound' Empathy in Education
Bridget Cooper is Professor of Education at the University of Sunderland in the UK. Bridget has taught for 31 years in schools, adult education and Higher Education in various capacities across the age and attainment range. 
Author: Empathy in Education: Engagement, values and achievement
Sub Conference: Education
Sub Conference: Science
Bridget Cooper 1: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy in Education
Bridget Cooper is Professor of Education at the University of Sunderland in the UK. Bridget has taught for 31 years in schools, adult education and Higher Education in various capacities across the age and attainment range. 
Author: Empathy in Education: Engagement, values and achievement
Sub Conference: Education
Sub Conference: Science

Lynne Cameron: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy

Lynne Cameron is Professor of Applied Linguistics at the Open University. Her research is in  what stops us from connecting, and how to help empathy happen. Author: Metaphor and Reconciliation: The Discourse Dynamics of Empathy in Post-Conflict Conversations. Empathy is moving into the experience of another. The opposite of empathy is being at a distance and there being blocks in the way. The best way to create empathy may be to remove the blocks and let our natural drive toward empathy happen.
Science Conference


Marc Bekoff: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy

Author: The Emotional Lives of Animals: A Leading Scientist Explores Animal Joy, Sorrow, and Empathy

Edwin: How we can go about building a culture of empathy?

Marc: I think about that a lot, in fact a book that I just sent off that will be out next year called, "Ignoring Nature No More: The Case for Compassionate Conservation". I see a lots of ways that we can build a culture of empathy,.
Sub Conference: Science
Sub Conference: Animals

Interview with Rick Hanson on Empathy
I have a special interest, a particular interest in practical methods, useful things, found at the intersection of psychology, brain science and contemplative practice... I think looking out at the world today, we have a crises of empathy in a way.
Sub Conference: Science

Carolyn Pedwell: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy

Carolyn Pedwell is a Lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies, School of Arts and Cultures, Newcastle University in the UK. Author Feminism, Culture and Embodied Practice: The Rhetorics of Comparison.

Forthcoming Book: Affective Relations: The Transnational Politics of Empathy. 

How to build a culture of empathy?  .Realizing that 'empathy' is not one thing and that it may not always be positive. A critical approach to thinking through the politics of empathy needs to consider the ways in which empathy may produced, mobilized and be felt differently across different times, spaces and contexts. It also needs to take into account the risks and contradictions of practices of empathetic engagement, as well as their more productive possibilities.   Rather than thinking about empathy as a discrete or singular emotion, I'd recommend that we think more critically about the ways in which it is linked with other emotions, such as power, shame, etc.
Sub Conference: Science

Kathleen Barry: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy
Kathleen Barry is Professor Emerita of Penn State University and a feminist activist and sociologist. She is author of  Unmaking War, Remaking Men: How Empathy Can Reshape Our Politics, Our Soldiers and Ourselves The book explores soldiers' experiences through a politics of empathy - probing the psychopathy and sociopathy of war.

See her author talk, interview and an overview of her workshop on Unmaking War and Building Empathy.
Sub Conference: Science


Alfred Kaszniak: How to Build a Culture of Empathy with Science

Alfred Kaszniak is Professor and Head, Department of Psychology, University of Arizona. His publications focus on neuropsychological aspects of memory, emotion, aging, and age-related disorders of the central nervous system, particularly Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. His recent research has also examined emotion regulation and the cultivation of compassion in long-term Buddhist meditators.

His video taped presentation, 'Empathy & Compassion: Contemplative and Neuroscience Perspectives' gives an informative overview of the current understanding of the nature of empathy and compassion.

Sub Conferences: Science


Keiko Krahnke: How to Build a Culture of Empathy in Business

Keiko Krahnke is Associate Professor of Management; Business Communications at University of Northern Colorado in the Montfort College of Business.  Areas of research interests include spirituality and business, systems thinking, Appreciative Inquiry, and corporate citizenship. Currently interested in learning about human consciousness and teaching empathy and compassion.

She says, Empathy is wholeness and knowing that we are all part of one field and are interconnected. The opposite of Empathy is being trapped in narcissism.


Coauthor: Empathy, Connectedness and Organisation. 'In this paper, we conceptually explore the role of empathy as a connectedness organising mechanism. We expand ideas underlying positive organisational scholarship and examine leading-edge studies from neuroscience and quantum physics that give support to our claims. The perspective we propose has profound implications regarding how we organise and how we manage. First, we argue that empathy enhances connectedness through the unconscious sharing of neuro-pathways that dissolves the barriers between self and other.'
Sub Conferences:
Education and Workplace

Debbie Custance: Study on Dogs having Empathy for People in Distress

Debbie Custance is a lecturer at Goldsmiths College, Department of Psychology, London. She coauthored a study titled, 'Empathic-like responding by domestic dogs to distress in humans: An exploratory study'. 

The study tested how dogs respond to someone pretending to cry and be in distress.  The majority of dogs came over to the person crying in a way that seemed to express empathic concern.  "When the stranger pretended to cry, rather than approaching their usual source of comfort, their owner, dogs sniffed, nuzzled and licked the stranger instead.  The dogs’ pattern of response was behaviorally consistent with an expression of empathic concern..."

Sub Conference: Science and Animals & Nature

Piercarlo Valdesolo: How to Build a Culture of Empathy with Science

Piercarlo Valdesolo is an Assistant Professor of Psychology and head of the Moral Emotions and Trust Lab at Claremont McKenna College. "I study the role of emotions in social and moral decision making.  My research program investigates the role of emotion in social judgment, with a specific focus on how affective processes shape moral decisions and prosocial/antisocial behavior at both the individual and intergroup levels."

Piercarlo has two main lines of research. One focuses on the role of synchronous movement in arousing prosocial emotional responses.  Two is on the psychological biases that contribute to unethical decision making and corruption within institutions and organizations. One way Piercarlo says we can build empathy is by being more open and revealing more of ourselves.
Sub Conference: Science

Marc Brackett: How to Build a Culture of Empathy & Compassion


Marc Brackett is a Research Scientist in the Department of Psychology at Yale University. He also is Deputy Director of Yale's Health, Emotion and Behavior Laboratory and Head of the Emotional Intelligence Unit in the Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy.

He is the lead developer of The RULER Approach to Social and Emotional Learning, an evidence-based social and emotional learning (SEL) program that currently is implemented in hundreds of schools throughout the United States and abroad. The acronym RULER refers to the five key emotion skills of Recognizing, Understanding, Labeling, Expressing, and Regulating emotions. Marc says authenticity is his most important value.

Sub Conference: Science

Russell Kolts: How to Build a Culture of Empathy and Compassion

Russell Kolts is a professor in psychology at Eastern Washington University. His current research and professional work is focused upon Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT) and the application of CFT in working with emotional difficulties, particularly anger and attachment disturbances.

Russell is author of 'The Compassionate Mind Approach to Managing Your Anger.' The Compassionate-Mind Guide to Managing Your Anger will show you how to take responsibility for your anger and your life by cultivating a new strength: the power of compassion. 


Russell hosts the website, which is the online hub of the Inland Northwest Compassionate Mind Center. The center is committed to the development and application of evidence-based practices utilizing the purposeful cultivation of compassion and mindfulness to promote wellbeing.
Sub Conference: Science

Lynne Henderson: Shyness, Anxiety & How to Build a Culture of Empathy


Lynne Henderson is director of the Shyness Institute and Director of the Stanford Shyness Clinic for over 25 yrs.  Lynne is author of Building Social Confidence: Using Compassion-Focused Therapy to Overcome Shyness and Social Anxiety. The book offers a supportive program based in compassion-focused therapy for moving past social anxiety and the self-critical thoughts that propel it. 

How to build a culture of empathy?

1. Each of us practicing mindfulness and empathy ourselves consistently. Making mindfulness part of daily life, continuing to increase the number of classes/groups that have formed around mindfulness, disseminating these from elementary school on.

2. Increasing funding for research related to mindfulness and empathy, focusing on the beneficial results of empathy on the well being of self and others.

3. Increasing the focus on and conducting more research on compassion based psychotherapies such as my Social Fitness Training for shyness, Gilbert’s Compassion Focused Therapy, and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. My book,

4. Increasing the understanding and practice of compassion throughout the world through internet information dissemination and putting psychological interventions online
Sub Conference: Science