Center for Building a Culture of Empathy

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Culture of Empathy Builder: Tal-Chen Rabinowitch

Tal-Chen Rabinowitch & Edwin Rutsch: How to Build a Culture of Empathy with Music Arts

Tal-Chen is working in Cambridge towards a PhD. Her research explores the social nature of musical group interaction in children and the ways in which it can be directed towards the long-term enhancement of emotional empathy. This work explores experimentally the effects of musical group interaction on children’s every day capacity for empathy, and in particular, the emotional impact of synchronization during musical interaction. Her research suggests that music promotes empathy.

 She says her metaphor for empathy is like closing the distance between people and merging while the opposite is distance and a wall.
Sub Conferences:
Science and Arts



Tal-Chen Rabinowitch & Edwin Rutsch: How to Build a Culture of Empathy with Music Arts





Panel 004-A:  Fostering Empathy With the Arts

Lynn Johnson
Seung Chan Lim
Joan Kuenz
Tal-Chen Rabinowitch
Eva Vigran
Edwin Rutsch

This panel of guest artists from the fields of dance, music, theater, and design, shared their personal insights of how empathy plays a vital part in their various art forms.  The artists also outlined how they would make empathy front and center in our culture through their art form.

Fostering Empathy With the Arts


New Research Suggests Synchronizing Creates Empathy

"Marcie Sillman talks to Dr. Tal-Chen Rabinowitch from the University of Washington's Institute For Learning and Brain Science about her new research on how synchronicity creates feelings of empathy and familiarity between strangers. "

Sync Gaming Make Kids More Empathic

"Researchers have found that a physical activity performed together in unison or even a video game played together in sync on a computer could increase the empathy of kids as it helps children feel more positively toward one another. The study showed that eight-year-olds reported a greater sense of similarity and closeness immediately after playing the video game in sync, those who played the same game but not in a synchronous way did not report the same increase in connection."



Long-term musical group interaction has a positive influence on empathy in children

"Musical group interaction (MGI) is a complex social setting requiring certain cognitive skills that may also elicit shared psychological states. We argue that many MGI-specific features may also be important for emotional empathy, the ability to experience another person’s emotional state. We thus hypothesized that long-term repeated participation in MGI could help enhance a capacity for emotional empathy even outside of the musical context, through a familiarization with and refinement of MGI empathy-promoting musical components (EPMCs). We tested this hypothesis by designing an MGI programme for primary school children consisting of interactive musical games implementing various EPMCs. "


July 24, 2013 - Building an other-minded society: Musical interaction cultivates empathy in children
Study finds musical interaction cultivates empathy in children | The Raw Story

"New research suggests that understanding the emotional state of others is something that can be learned and practiced. Schools could one day add “empathy education” to their curriculum. New research suggests that understanding the emotional state of others is something that can be learned and practiced. According to a study published in the July issue of Psychology of Music, playing musical games can help cultivate a sense of empathy in children. "by Eric W. Dolan


2012-06-08 -Does Playing Music Boost Kids’ Empathy?

"Music can make us feel nostalgic, melancholy, or energized. It can make us want to dance. And, a new study suggests, it can make us feel more connected to other people, especially when we play music together. The study, recently published online in Psychology of Music, suggests that interacting with others through music makes us more emotionally attuned to other people, even beyond the musical setting."

2012-05-16 - Want A Less Fussy, Easier to Soothe, Kinder Child? Make Music!
Learning to make music helps babies communicate better and amps up empathy in older kids.

2012-04-23 -
Why Would Making Music Together Increase Empathy More Than Other Group Activities?
In sum, musical group interaction requires from its interacting individuals a unique combination of social and emotional capacities and skills that can potentially contribute to an enhanced capacity for empathy. In a recent study, we have put these ideas to the test, running a musical group interaction program during an entire school year. 


2012-04-23 - Making Music Together Increases Kids’ Empathy
"New research from the U.K. suggests certain types of group music-making can help kids develop empathy

Music education produces myriad benefits, strengthening kids’ abilities in reading, math, and verbal intelligence. New British research suggests it may also teach something less tangible, but arguably just as important: The ability to empathize."



Papers and presentations
From Shared Intentionality to Empathy in Children’s Musical Interaction
at the ‘New Perspectives on Joint Action and Task Sharing’ young researcher’s workshop;
Max Plank Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences Leipzig, Germany, 8-9 September, 2010.

Musical Group Interaction in Children Can Promote Empathy Through Shared Cognitive Mechanisms
(oral presentation) at the 11th International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition (ICMPC11);
University of Washington, Seattle, USA, 23-27 August, 2010.