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Empathy - Love it or Loathe it ! v2.1
Transcript of Empathy - Love it or Loathe it ! v2.1
Full Identification: An intense understanding of the other person's circumstances. Understanding their thinking and feeling their emotions.
Zero Identification: No understanding of the other person's situation or of their reactions to the relevant stimulus.
Sympathy: Agreement with, or approval of, another person's response to the circumstances
affecting their emotions and/or actions
Spectrum of Conscious & Unconscious Identification
Examples help to explain ...
The key point ... levels of empathic Reaction (sympathy or antipathy)
are not directly linked to levels of Identification
A model to describe and analyse empathy.
Deconstructing empathy into it's component parts;
(High v Low),
(Sympathy v Antipathy), and
(Conscious v Unconcious)
this model is designed to overcome confusion in various scientific definitions of "Empathy".
For example, it highlights an essential
difference in empathy between
Autistic and Psychotic personality types.
In general, it provides an interesting perspective on human behaviour which enables better strategies to impact empathy.
Academic Sources, References & Inspirations
Spectrum of Identification
A] strong antipathy Response +above average Identification + cognitive Mode:
e.g. A psychologist considering the violent actions of a psychotic.
B] Strong sympathy Response + very high level of Identification + using intuitive Mode:
e.g. A parent observing the body language of another parent who's child has just won a competition.
D] A neutral Reaction + above average Identification + a cognitive Mode of engagement: e.g. A psychotic person deducing from words and body language that someone is in a vulnerable emotional state.
C] A neutral Reaction + below average Identification + cognitive Mode: e.g. A person with Asperger's logically deducing another's anger based on the words they speak
Antipathy: Disdain for, or disapproval of the others person's motives and/or their response to their circumstances
According to Paul Ekman’s classification,
“cognitive empathy” is “simply knowing how the other person feels and what they might be thinking. Sometimes called perspective-taking, this kind of empathy can help in, say, a negotiation or in motivating people.”
“Emotional empathy” is described as a state “when you feel physically along with the other person, as though their emotions were contagious.” Finally, with “compassionate empathy,” “we not only understand a person’s predicament and feel with them, but are spontaneously moved to help, if needed.”
In the E:IRM Model Ekman's Emotional Empathy and Compassionate Empathy are treated as essentially the same thing, as variations of Empathic Mode. His emotional and compassionate classifications relate to some extent to whether the subject is conscious of the empathy they are feeling. Ekman's Compassionate Empathy is the Emphatic Reaction.
Ekman's term Cognitive Empathy is useful in that it suggests an awareness of empathy, distinct from the unconscious empathy that an individual may feel when listening to a music performance, for example. This concept of a 'Perspective Taking' or conscious awareness of Empathy is particularly useful in the comparison of empathy in autistic and psychotic personalities.
The E:IRM Empathy Model combines Identification, Reaction & Mode to create a complete model of Empathy.
Other models currently in use do not explicitly address antipathy. Many assume that antipathy and empathy are incompatable .
There are many definitions of empathy that verge on the mystical. The E:IRM Model uses the prosaic and most common definition seeing the world from another's point of view.
Alvin Goldman (1993): "The ability to put oneself into the mental shoes of another person to understand her emotions and feelings."
[Goldman, A. (1993) Ethics and cognitive science. Ethics 103, 337–360]
Simon Baron-Cohen (2003): "Empathy is about spontaneously and naturally tuning into the other person's thoughts and feelings, whatever these might be [...]There are two major elements to empathy. The first is the cognitive component: Understanding the others feelings and the ability to take their perspective [...] the second element to empathy is the affective component. This is an observer's appropriate emotional response to another person's emotional state."
[The Essential Difference: The Truth about the Male and Female Brain, Basic Books (July 1, 2003)]
The "affective component" mentioned in Baron-cohen's definition alludes to the need to address Antipathy as well as Sympathy as the IRM Model does as Reaction. However, the suggestion that Antipathy may or may not be
is unhelpful, as this is a subjective judgement affected by culture, personal experience and taste.
The E:IRM Model makes a distinction between Empathic Modes; conscious identification - consciously understanding the experience of another, and subconcious identification - unconsciously mirroring the emotions and feelings of another.
Unconscious identification (also called Affective or Somatic Empathy) is a powerful and ubiquitous force. Examples are abundant, from the contagion of yawning in a group, becoming tense when communicating with someone who is stressed, to the visceral reaction of a parent to their child's accidental injury.
One could assume that unconscious empathy implies sympathy. This will be true in the majority of situations, however, in mob hysteria an unconscious empathy can lead individuals to an Empathic Reaction that encourages the mob to engage in acts which they have antipathy to.
The E:IRM model does not highlight the subconscious versus conscious identification of empathy. This '3rd dimension' of empathy (Mode) can be included by signifying this factor in the graphic used to locate the subject in the I+R dimensions, or by mapping in a three dimensional space where the mix of conscious and unconscious identification forms the z axis of the graph.
In the E:IRM Model This 'reflexive resonance' or 'unconscious affective processing' is considered another information source to advise Identifcation.
Conscious & Unconscious Identification
- the basis of Empathy
Sympathy & Antipathy the RESPONSE component of empathy
The E:IRM Model makes a distinction between;
Sympathy for another's actions can exaggerate self-measures of Identification with that person. This is often perceived as a strong empathy, but high levels of sympathy without accurate Identification is sentimentality rather than empathy.
Antipathy for another's actions makes Identification with that person an uncomfortable experience. This cognitive dissonance can create a reaction of hatred toward the other person.
This dimension can be represented on the map using shapes:
Popularised via 'Body Language', conscious or Cognotive Identification is also advised by an understanding of the context the subject is in. For example understanding that an individual has just got a job that they are very happy about would explain why they are less affected by a sad story being told by a friend.
Method Actors &
Hate Criminals &
Does the E:IRM model help to understand human behavior in day to day practical situations?
It does show us what a Psychologist, a Method Actor and a Psychopath have in common.
A riddle... What is the difference
between a Psychologist, a Method Actor and
A map of the model
"The Essential Difference: Male & Female Brains and the Truth About Autism", by Simon Baron-Cohen
"The Psychopath Test" by Jon Ronson
The PCL-R Checklist. Bob Hare
The Study of Empathy by A. R. Hornblow
New Zealand Psycologist Magazine 1980
Empathy has been subdivided into two major components: cognitive empathy (also termed 'theory of mind' or 'mentalizing') defined as the drive to identify another's mental states; and affective empathy, defined as the drive to respond with an appropriate emotion to another's mental states. Whilst numerous studies have reported difficulties in cognitive empathy in autism and Asperger Syndrome, affective empathy may be intact in people with these diagnoses. That is, individuals with autism have difficulties ascertaining others' thoughts and feelings, but experience empathy when they are aware of others' states of mind.
Baron-Cohen argued in his book Zero Degrees of Empathy (Penguin, 2011) that autistic persons and psychopaths are mirror opposites (psychopaths show intact cognitive empathy but impaired affective empathy whilst people with autism show impaired cognitive empathy but intact affective empathy). He argues that this is why psychopaths can go on to commit acts of cruelty and why acts of cruelty are uncommon in autism. People with autism struggle to understand other people's motives, intentions and behaviour and tend to avoid relationships, finding them confusing, but rarely hurt others. In contrast, psychopaths tend to manipulate others by using their intact cognitive empathy and often hurt others.
For simplicity, this distinction is not represented as an axis on the map of the E:IRM model.
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suggests a Conscious Identification,
represents a combination of Conscious and Unconscious Identification
indicates a primarily Unconscious Identification.
The mode(s) of identification the observer is using are the foundation of the capacity for empathy.
Unconscious or Intuitive Identification (also called Affective or Somatic Empathy) is a powerful and ubiquitous force. Examples are abundant, from the contagion of yawning in a group, becoming tense when communicating with someone who is stressed, to the visceral reaction of a parent to their child's accidental injury.
Scientific evidence for Intuitive Identification crosses species. Monkeys watching human experimenters grasping objects trigger reactions in the same part of the monkey's brain as the act of grasping. ref Gallese 1996
Spectrum of Identification
Autistic & Severe Aspergers
Design experiments to test whether the model allows better measurement of empathy, combining the three dimensions. Also whether this supports new insights into the nature of empathy.
Review current research papers on Empathy to establish if these support or challenge the E:IRM Model.
Synthesise a new empathy measurement from existing examples (like The Interpersonal Reactivity Index IRI, Campbell's Affective Sensitivity Scale and the Hogan Empathy Scale etc.) to take account of the E:IRM dimensions.
Cognotive and Intuitive Mode(s)
This is most difficult of the three dimensions of Empathy to measure.
Love it or Loathe it
- consciously understanding the experience of another
- unconsciously mirroring the emotions and feelings of another.
Three Dimensions make up Empathy
The degree to which the other person's point of view is understood. Ranging from low to high.
The positive or negative (often moral) response to the other person's position. Ranging from Sympathy to Antipathy.
The basis of engagement that informs the Identification and Reaction. Can be intuitive
Judges, Journalists & Negotiators
Cognitive vs. Affective Empathy