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Join the International Conference on: How Might We Build a Culture of Empathy and Compassion?

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Culture of Empathy Builder:    Daryl Cameron

Daryl Cameron & Edwin Rutsch: How to Build a Culture of Empathy-Compassion with Science

Daryl Cameron is a social psychology doctoral candidate at UNC Chapel Hill. "I work at the crossroads of social psychology and philosophy. My research examines the relationship between implicit social cognition and moral decisions: how do automatic affective reactions and deliberative reasoning interact to shape our moral lives?" Daryl's research focuses on the causes and consequences of compassion regulation; and how implicit emotional processes contribute to moral decision-making.

"Psychological studies show that people feel more compassion for a single victim than for multiple victims, a finding that has been called "the collapse of compassion." The collapse of compassion should strike you as shocking. Most people predict that they would -- and should -- feel more compassion if more people are suffering. Yet people's emotional responses to actual victims tell otherwise. " Daryl says, one way to increase empathy and compassion is to make helping easy and not overwhelming. Create small easy steps that people can do. Also develop trainings that build empathy and compassionate resilience.

Sub Conference: Science



Daryl Cameron & Edwin Rutsch: How to Build a Culture of Empathy-Compassion with Science



Empathy often avoided because of mental effort
APRIL 22, 2019

"Even when feeling empathy for others isn't financially costly or emotionally draining, people will still avoid it because they think empathy requires too much mental effort, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association"


"Empathy Is Hard Work: People Choose to Avoid Empathy Because of Its Cognitive Costs," by C. Daryl Cameron, PhD, Julian A. Scheffer, MA, Eliana Hadjiandreou, BA, Pennsylvania State University; Cendri A. Hutcherson, PhD, Amanda M. Ferguson, MA, and Michael Inzlicht, PhD, University of Toronto; Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, published online April 18.

Empathy is considered a virtue, yet fails in many situations, leading to a basic question: when given a choice, do people avoid empathy? And if so, why? Whereas past work has focused on material and emotional costs of empathy, here we examined whether people experience empathy as cognitively taxing and costly, leading them to avoid it. We developed the Empathy Selection Task, which uses free choices to assess desire to empathize. Participants make a series of binary choices, selecting situations that lead them to engage in empathy or an alternative course of action. In each of 11 studies (N=1,204) and a meta-analysis, we found a robust preference to avoid empathy, which was associated with perceptions of empathy as effortful, aversive, and inefficacious. Experimentally increasing empathy efficacy eliminated empathy avoidance, suggesting cognitive costs directly cause empathy choice. When given the choice to share others’ feelings, people act as if it’s not worth the effort




Ask an Ethicist: How important is empathy in the U.S. presidential election?
Daryl Cameron
 - October 17, 2016

"Question: Do U.S. presidents need empathy in order to govern effectively?
An ethicist responds: As Election Day nears, voters are debating the qualities that make for an effective leader. One contested quality is empathy: the ability to understand and resonate with the experiences of others. Does it matter if a president can relate to you and care about what you are going through? On the one hand, empathy may enable democratic governance by increasing awareness of different points of view. On the other hand, empathy might cause partiality and favoritism to particular points of view, clouding objectivity and fair judgment.




“Motivation, Capacity, And The Limits Of Compassion” By Daryl Cameron, PhD

Published on Dec 18, 2015

"His research focuses on causes and consequences of empathy and compassion. In particular, he focuses on motivational factors that inhibit empathy toward large-scale crises (e.g., natural disasters, genocides) and stigmatized targets (e.g., drug addicts). His research is funded by the National Science Foundation."

00:00 Introduction

03:00 Begin

  • big theme that unites my research is motivation capacity and limits of empathy

  • what is empathy and what are it's limits and why does empathy appear to fail in many cases when it's needed the most.

  • story situation - thought experiments.

    •  child drowning - do you have moral obligation to save the child? (powerful empathy)

    • helping child via unicef  (lacking empathy)

  • Cecile the lion is shot. lots of empathy and compassion for Cecile but not for the millions of other animals.

  • Syrian boy drowned. lot's of empathy for him but not for others

  • My work: Why do we feel strong empathy for Cecile the lion and syrian boy and not large scale suffering.

  • Definition of Terms - has subcomponents

    • experience sharing - photo of suffering boy you feel his suffering - what are your reactions

  • 7:30 some say empathy is automatic

    • we have choice about our empathy

    • empathy is a choice

  • 9:00 benefits of empathy and compassion

    • cornerstone of morality

  • 9:45 - people argue empathy has a dark side.

    • a susceptible to a variety of biases and limitations

  • 10:00 Paul Bloom

    • inspired by Jesse Prinz

    • idea is we can run out of empathy -it's a fixed pie.

  • 11:40 Argue that empathy deficits emerge from motivated choice

    • Self-control studies -

    • can fixed limits on empathy be expanded

    • limits based on motivated limits to disengage from others

  • Empathy avoidance studies

  • Studies by Jamil - if people think empathy is a skill that can be incrementally build, they will exert more effort to feel more empathy

  •  14:00 Empathy deficit in autism and psychopathy.  give motivation and they can raise empathy level

    • studies show empathy limits can fluctuate

  • 15:00 empathy deficits are flexible not fixed

    • motivations

  • limits of empathy is not empathy itself but the motivations

  • 18:00 Limit:  Innumeracy  issue - One death tragedy, 1 million a statistic.

    • suffering of large groups

    • one to many

    • why are we numb to numbers

    • does various experiments

    • Summary Innumeracy is not build in

  • 32:00 Limit: Parochialism - Outgroups

    • dehumanization

    • happens in US most to homeless and drug addicts

  • 53:00 what about compassion

    • compassion v compassion

  • 59:00 Are the limits to empathy really flexible and if you motivate people will they empathize more? (could make it a cultural value to incentive people)

    • empathy is as limited as we want it to be

  • 59:30 Q and A

  • 1:00 - What could cause empathy seeking?

    • trying to remind the social norms of helping.

    • having guilt for not being empathic

    • cost of not feeling empathy

    • if people felt they were effective at empathy they would do it more. (don't be afraid of empathy)



A sponsorship for Edwin Rutsch - support me in leader the imitative .



#PrayForParis: Why We Empathize, or Not

"The terrorist attacks on Paris sparked an outpouring of support for people affected. The attacks in Beirut that day before did not. Why? Daryl Cameron, assistant professor of social psychology and director at the Iowa Morality Lab at the University of Iowa, says it’s because we don’t respond to the people living in those places in the same way....

During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Cameron and Rebecca Renze, who is a high school counselor at Waterloo East High School, about why we have empathy for some people and not others. Nebbe also talks with Cameron and Renze about how to teach empathy."



2013-05-20 - Can You Run Out of Empathy?
By Daryl Cameron - Greater Good Science Center

"An essay in this week’s New Yorker argues that we don't have enough empathy to go around. But new research says we can keep renewing and expanding our feeling for others.

Is empathy a limited resource, easily depleted and restricted to those closest to us? That’s the argument psychologist Paul Bloom makes in an essay for this week’s New Yorker, subtitled “The case against empathy.” He admits that empathy can do a lot of good: decades of research show that feeling empathy can lead us to be more caring, forgiving, and altruistic.

But according to Bloom, empathy also can do a lot of bad. It’s an untrustworthy moral compass because it is “parochial, narrow-minded, and innumerate.” Empathy seems tuned to only one frequency, that of a single identifiable victim, with whom we feel some personal connection. According to Bloom, these biases make empathy ill-suited to help us confront crises like natural disasters, genocides, and climate change. Bloom concludes, “Empathy will have to yield to reason if humanity is to have a future.”

Can You Run Out of Empathy? Daryl Cameron in Response to The Case Against Empathy by Paul Bloom  


Jan 16, 2013 - How to Increase Your Compassion Bandwidth

"Compassion is a powerful moral emotion—it moves us to care for the suffering of others, and enables us to live cooperatively with one another.

Yet we live in a society of constant connection, in which the successes and sorrows of others are brought to us instantly through phones, computers, TV, radio, and newspapers. With that increased connection comes the risk of becoming overwhelmed or overburdened by our emotions. Fearing exhaustion, we turn off our compassion.

But my research suggests we can actually expand our compassion bandwidth without hurting ourselves. As the science of compassion develops, we can find empirically supported ways to cultivate and sustain compassion when it is needed the most."



2012-03-17 - Lack Of Compassion Can Make People Feel Less Moral, Study Shows

hen a stranger asks for money, people choose not to give for a variety of reasons, even if their hearts want to -- perhaps they're not sure what the money will be used for, or perhaps they'd rather give to an organization that helps people in need. Or maybe they just don't want to part with their cash. But a new study in the journalPsychological Science suggests that there could be a hidden cost to not being compassionate -- it might make you feel a little less moral.



07/16/2012 - The Science of Choosing Compassion

Psychological studies show that people feel more compassion for a single victim than for multiple victims, a finding that has been called "the collapse of compassion." The collapse of compassion should strike you as shocking. Most people predict that they would -- and should -- feel more compassion if more people are suffering. Yet people's emotional responses to actual victims tell otherwise. Imagine reading about either a single victim or eight victims. Experiments find that compassion doesn't simply level off with more victims -- so it's not that adding seven victims to the single victim increases compassion only a little bit. Instead, adding seven victims makes you feel less compassion compared to just one. Compassion plummets as the numbers increase.




2012-07-19 - at CCARE's conference The Science of Compassion: Origins, Measures, and Interventions. 

Panel: The Future Directions in Research on Compassion


2012-07-11 - Second Compassion Research Day at Facebook HQ

2:15pm - 3:15pm - The Costs of Compassion and Callousness 
Compassion is a powerful moral emotion that often compels us to help others in need. Yet we often avoid feeling compassion in the pursuit of self-interested goals. In this talk, I will examine factors that motivate people to avoid feeling compassion for others, and how compassion avoidance changes how people think about morality. Presenters:

  • Daryl Cameron, social psychology graduate student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill