Center for Building a Culture of Empathy

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Culture of Empathy Builder:  Lidewij Niezink

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

Lidewij Niezink 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...




Co-creating Solutions through Empathic Intervision ft. Dr. Lidewij Niezink



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



Practicing Empathy in Business for Better Results with Dr Lidewij Niezink
Dr. Lidewij Niezink is an independent scholar and practitioner who focuses on the development of empathy theory and education. She dedicates her professional life to the integration of fundamental and applied research from science in psychology, philosophy, social neuroscience, arts, and anthropology, with practice-based experiential methods.



November 9, 2015 - Empathy Circles: a Blended Empathy Practice  
"As of 2012, I have been working with Edwin Rutsch of the Center for Building a Culture of Empathy to build a hands on, walking the talk, empathy practice. We designed the Empathy Circles as one way of practising empathy. The circles are based in science from many different disciplines such as psychology, neuroscience, biology, philosophy and arts (i.e. dance and literature)."

November 24, 2015
- Empathy Prologue: Setting your Intention
"The universal intention of the Empathy Circles is to build a Culture of Empathy. The noun culture stems directly from Latin 'cultura' which means 'growing, cultivation'. So in building a culture of empathy we want to empathically grow, cultivate and transform society. We foster empathy within ourselves, the circle, our family and friends, our communities and finally, within the world at large."


Dec 1, 2015 - Phase One: Arriving with Self-Empathy
"After setting our intention (as I have described in my previous post), we turn our attention towards ourselves first. The first step in practising empathy is becoming aware of our own inner state: self-empathy. The primary function of self-empathy is an insight-enhancing function."



May 29, 2012 - Power of Empathy ~ Lidewij Niezink

I’ve researched the effects of empathy and perspective taking on helping behavior and altruism. Perspective taking is an important human capacity and the cognitive part of empathic concern. When we try to imagine what others are thinking, feeling or experiencing, we tend to ask ourselves: “how would I think/feel if I were in the shoes of that other person?” In social psychology, this is what we call an imagine-self perspective.


Empathy and Compassion in Society conference in London in November 2012.

Panel: Research in empathy and compassion as a factor for change - Empathy and Compassion in Society 2012
The roundtable will review some of the latest findings in the science of empathy and compassion and highlight in particular the practical applications of these findings in education, health and social care
A roundtable with

  • Dr. Lidewij Niezink from Hanze University in Holland (Presentation on Empathy Circles)

  • Dr. James Doty from the Stanford University Centre for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE),

  • Dr. Walter Osika from CCARE ,Sweden

  • Prof. Andrew Gumley from Glasgow University,

  • Paul Gilbert




Empathy Circles Prezi 
A basic outline of the Empathy Circles and the stages of empathy we work with. by Lidewij Niezink 






Empathy as a Factor for Change
Presentation by Lidewij Niezink at the 'Empathy and Compassion in Society Conference', London, November 2012.

How can we make sure that the research on empathy and compassion contributes to this changing world? By turning it into practice: Empathy Circles combine research from different scientific disciplines into one instrument which helps us to walk the talk.





How to build a culture of empathy?

  • 1. Stop looking for/longing for/ (dis-)believing in the qualities of empathy and compassion outside of ourselves. We ALL possess these qualities already (as research is showing us). They are part of our cognitive and emotional repertoire. There is nothing to expect out there, it is inhere.

  • 2. 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.

  • 3. Stop reading and writing and believing in only half of the human make-up. Balance ego-focus and other-focus. Fearlessly Love others as well as ourselves. As Loreal puts it: because we are worth it! ;-)



Considering Others in Need: On Altruism, Empathy and Perspective Taking
PhD Thesis  -
"In the social psychological literature, empathy is seen as an emotional response which evokes the altruistic motivation to help others. One cognitive tool to increase the experience of empathy is perspective taking. The current dissertation investigates how different perspectives on the suffering of others, in combination with individual differences and situational variations, lead to empathy and the willingness to help those others. It also explores how empathy has been measured within psychology in the past five decades.


On the basis of new data, a more optimal measurement of the construct is proposed, by dividing the original measure into two new scales: a sympathy and a tenderheartedness scale. These concepts are subsequently distinguished from related concepts such as emotional contagion, personal distress and compassion. Finally, a new model is proposed in which altruistic behaviour is a consequence of several choices one can make while perceiving the suffering of others."


Chapter 1 General Introduction

  • Egoistic Motivation

  • Empathy and Altruistic Motivation

  • Cognitive mechanism: Perspective Taking

    • Perspective Taking and Social Comparison

    • Different Perspectives for Friends and Family

  • Reconsidering the Concept of Empathy

  • Overview of the present dissertation

    • Chapter 2

    • Chapter 3

    • Chapter 4

    • Chapter5

Chapter 2 When Your Suffering Becomes Mine: The Influence of   Social Comparison Orientation on Affect Resulting in a Willingness to Help Others

  • Study 2.1

  • Study 2.2 

  • General Discussion

Chapter 3 Psychological Motivators of Altruism Among Kin and Friends

  • Study 3.1: University Student Sample

  • Study 3.2: Community Sample

  • General Discussion

Chapter 4 What Happened to Pandora’s Box: Reconsidering the Measurement of State Empathy

  • Defining Empathy within Psychology

  • Review Factor Analysis

  • Nine Factor Analyses based on new data

  • The Discriminatory Power of the newly appeared scales of Sympathy and Tenderheartedness

  • Conclusion

Chapter 5 Summary and Discussion

  • Summary

  • Relations with other Research

  • Altruism, from inclination to choice

  • Limitations and Ruminations

  • Conclusion


 why are academics always so concerned about suffering (person in need) and the alleviation of suffering? They don't look much at the nature of empathy and how it applies to the wider variety of human experiences.