Empathy gap – what do we know about empathizing with others′ pain?

Polish Psychological Bulletin 48 (1):111-117 (2017)
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Abstract

Empathy of pain as a multi-dimensional process includes sharing and understanding the pain of others in relation to oneself. Subjects in such studies are typically members of western, educated, industrialized, rich and democratic societies. In the literature review that we conducted, we observed that little is known about the empathy for pain in people who are not members of societies with these cultural characteristics. We often understand those who are “similar” to us more easily - ones who belong to “our” cultural circle. However, contact with another culture could help prevent such bias. Group characteristics, such as focus on others, hierarchy preference, or cultural differences in self-constructs, can change the activity of brain regions associated with empathy and compassion. Increasing the diversity of the research participants connected with education level, poverty, industrialization, and respect for basic citizen freedoms seem to be necessary to fully understand the mechanisms that influence the development and operation of empathy.

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The weirdest people in the world?Joseph Henrich, Steven J. Heine & Ara Norenzayan - 2010 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 33 (2-3):61-83.
Altruism in Humans.Charles Daniel Batson - 2011 - Oxford University Press.

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