"we argue that a very important aspect that influences
invention and creativity is the empathy factor...
Such exploration and immersion through perceptual
openness, role-taking and flexible ego-control characteristic of empathy
correlate and lead to creativity and thence to constructive evaluative
reflection: explore, create, evaluate.
Empathy and open-mindedness in
the real world: all these form the vital ingredients for the creative
process to thrive and for encouraging the designers of tomorrow."
According to the age-old proverb from Plato’s Republic:
necessity is the mother of invention,
the main motivation for creating new discoveries is the need for them.
However, as well as the necessity factor, we argue that a very important
aspect that influences invention and creativity is the empathy
This mixed methods research investigated the impact of empathy instruction on
the social and emotional skills of creativity in the UK Design and Technology
Pupils in year 9 (aged 13 to 14 years) from two schools were
assessed for their creativity levels using the Torrance Test of Creative
Thinking (TTCT) both at the start and at the end of the academic school year.
In the intervening period, whereas the control school continued as normal with
its usual D&T lessons, the intervention school’s D&T lessons were replaced by
a creativity tuition kit called Designing Our Tomorrow (DOT), which involves
instruction in empathising.
Pupils from year 7 (aged 11 to 12 years) in a third school were
given the DOT task alone and interviewed about their experiences of it.
Results showed that unlike the control school, whose emotional and cognitive
creative scores in fact decreased over time, the intervention school increased
in its levels of emotional and cognitive creativity, as measured by the TTCT.
These quantitative as well as the subsequent qualitative interview findings
and pupils’ portfolios suggest that creativity can be taught and particularly
via instruction that advocates the importance of empathising with the subject
Demetriou, H. (2018).
Empathy, Emotion and Education. Palgrave MacMillan
This book explores the construct of empathy and its connection with education.
Charting literature on the origins and evolution of the concept of empathy,
the author examines the multifaceted nature of empathy and the external and
internal influences behind this concept. The relationship between empathy and
education is examined through the impact they have on each other for the
development of social and emotional understanding, positive social behaviours
and effective teaching and learning.
POSTnote (2018). Developing non-academic skills. Shipton, E., & Bermingham, R.
(eds.). Houses of Parliament: Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology,
"A new University of Cambridge study suggests that encouraging students in a
classroom setting to engender empathy boosts their creativity. These findings
(Demetriou & Nicholl, 2021) were published on January 25 in the peer-reviewed
journal Improving Schools."
This study's title, "Empathy Is the Mother of Invention: Emotion and Cognition
for Creativity in the Classroom," uses a play on words to reframe the age-old
proverb, "necessity is the mother of invention," while highlighting the
benefits of teaching students empathy."
Empathy-Oriented Teaching Fosters Creativity, Study Finds
New research suggests that social and emotional teaching in schools may
encourage creativity among young people.
By Sadie Cathcart
February 17, 20210
"Demetriou and Nicholl highlight many schools that have integrated
empathy-promoting programming have done so in the context of literature
and humanities curricula. In early education, distinctions between
subjects may be less explicit, whereas opportunities to explore
perspective-taking as school advances may be more obvious in reading,
writing, and social studies than in science and math."