Empathy is contagious

Empathy contagion: How others’ reactions shape our ability to feel compassion

The study published in the Pnas science journal highlights how others’ reactions can influence our empathy towards someone else’s pain. Professor Grit Hein and his colleagues conducted four experiments with more than 50 women to investigate the social contagion of compassion. They found that participants became more or less empathetic based on how others had reacted to videos of hands experiencing pain.

The brain imaging conducted during the experiments showed that empathy was specifically learned from others, rather than simply imitated. This learning from others was responsible for the increase or decrease in compassion observed in the participants. Professor Hein suggests that these findings can be applied to organizational settings, emphasizing the importance of creating an environment that promotes empathy in the workplace.

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