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Addressing the Empathy Deficit: Beliefs about the Malleability of Empathy Predict Effortful Responses when Empathy is Challenging

Readers may download this excellent, peer-reviewed psychology article from the Stanford Social Neuroscience Laboratory for free. Authored by psychologists Karina Schumann, Jamil Zaki, and Carol Dweck, the study examines issues of empathy across seven studies. What they found has implications for everything from teacher training to law enforcement. In essence, empathy changes not only based on situation, but also mindset. Specifically, those participants who believed that empathy can be developed were significantly more likely to make an effort in challenging contexts than those people who believed that empathy was a fixed trait. This was true both for participants who came into the study with their own views and for those who were primed into one group or the other. As the researchers note, "these data suggest that people's mindsets powerfully affect whether they exert effort to empathize when it is needed most."
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Date Issued
March 13th, 2014
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Date of Scout Publication
October 9th, 2015
Date Of Record Creation
October 7th, 2015 at 4:00pm
Date Of Record Release
October 8th, 2015 at 9:34am
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