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Culture of Empathy Builder:  Ed OBrien
 

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."

 

 

 Empathy Study: We feel more empathy for those with similar political beliefs


 


Transcripts

  • 00:00 Introduction

  • (transcription pending)

  • (Video Transcriptions: If you would like to take empathic action and create a transcription of this video, check the volunteers page.  The transcriptions will make it easier for other viewers to quickly see the content of this video.)

 

 


Study: More Than Skin Deep: Visceral States Are Not Projected Onto Dissimilar Others

Ed O’Brien
Phoebe C. Ellsworth

What people feel shapes their perceptions of others. In the studies reported here, we examined the assimilative influence of visceral states on social judgment. Replicating prior research, we found that participants who were outside during winter overestimated the extent to which other people were bothered by cold (Study 1), and participants who ate salty snacks without water thought other people were overly bothered by thirst (Study 2).

 

However, in both studies, this effect evaporated when participants believed that the other people under consideration held opposing political views from their own. Participants who judged these dissimilar others were unaffected by their own strong visceral-drive states, a finding that highlights the power of dissimilarity in social judgment. Dissimilarity may thus represent a boundary condition for embodied cognition and inhibit an empathic understanding of shared out-group pain. 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.

 

2012-04-04  - Why Republicans and Democrats Can't Feel Each Other's Pain

By MAIA SZALAVITZ
 Led by Ed O’Brien, scientists from the University of Michigan crafted a study on inter-party empathy based on prior data on the emotion, which finds that our ability to empathize is greatly affected not only by whom we’re trying to empathize with, but also by our own physical and emotional states.



2012-04-02  - Empathy Doesn’t Extend Across the Political Aisle
When we try to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, we usually go all the way, assuming that they feel the same way we do. But a new study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, finds that we have limits: we don’t extend this projection to people who have different political views, even under extreme circumstances.

The researchers chose to examine political differences because of the big divide perceived between people on opposing sides, as shown by earlier research. We can look beyond someone having a different gender or being from a different country, but if you’re a Democrat and someone else is a Republican, that person seems extremely different.  ...This might reveal a surprising limit to our ability to empathize with people we differ from or disagree with.

 

2012-04-04  - Politics vs. Empathy

Politics makes us stupid. This is one of my recurring themes. This is the principal reason I refuse to be partisan or ideological team player. People call me libertarian but I don't in part because I'm not one, but mostly because I suspect that accepting any such label dings my IQ about 15 points. It turns out politics not only makes us stupid. It also makes us callous. Here's the abstract of "More Than Skin Deep: Visceral States Are Not Projected Onto Dissimilar Others" by Ed O'Brien and Phoebe C. Ellsworth of the University of Michigan

 

 2012-04-09  - The politics of selective empathy
A new, controversial study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, shows that empathy has its limits. The research indicates that people find it difficult, if not impossible, to put themselves in the shoes of others who hold opposing political values, even in extreme circumstances.
 


2012-04-09  - With Your Party, Cry If You Want To
We feel more empathy for those with similar political beliefs and the same partisanship.