Matthew Winslow is
Associate Professor in the
Psychology Department at
Eastern Kentucky University.He teaches a class on empathy in
the filed of
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 itís the narrow focus
on the self. The opposite of empathy is wearing mirrored sunglasses on
backwards so you only see yourself. Sub
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My research is now about creating an app (for smartphones, eventually)
that will make people better perspective takers. We are really at the
start of the development process, but the initial testing weíve done is
promising. Our goal is that people would play our ďgameĒ the same way
they do Angry Birds. We hope it will enjoyable and entertaining, all the
while making them better empathizers. I can explain to you in more
detail how we plan to do it. I also describe it a bit in my Chautauqua
This is my current plan for saving the world. The other two ideas I
presented in my lecture were to reduce the division ini the world
(us/them), and to make people see themselves as more similar to others,
and others as more similar to everyone. Perceived dissimilarity has been
a barrier to empathy in much research. Both are tall orders.
What is your metaphor of what empathy is like?
Iím not sure this counts as a metaphor, but I see empathy as a skill
that can be developed with practice. People need both the motivation to
empathize and the ability to do so. My game will address the ability
part, and the motivation part if I can get it in there. My idea is to
appeal to self-interest. Being more empathic will help you in your life,
relationships, workplace, etc.
If you want a more poetic answer, I would say that empathy is like the
best Halloween costume ever.
Describe your personal felt experience in your body of empathy?
Not sure what you mean here. I like the behavioral mimicry research (we
unconsciously mimic the posture of people we are talking to), but I
donít think thatís what you mean. Maybe you can help me understand your
What is the opposite of empathy and what is your metaphor for that?
Narcissism is the opposite of empathy because itís the narrow focus on
the self. Itís tempting to say that facebook is a killer of empathy
because itís broadcasting yourself to everyone, but I donít think thatís
quite correct. You CAN read about others on facebook, so itís not
one-way only. The opposite of empathy is wearing mirrored sunglasses on
backwards so you only see yourself.