Empathy is the ability to perceive and respond to a fellow human’s internal experiences and is recognized as an important human capacity across various disciplines. The word empathy comes from the Greek words meaning “in” (em) and “feeling” (pathos). Therefore, whereas internal experiences may include thoughts, attitudes, physical sensations, and emotions, empathy is most commonly used to describe an affective experience rather than a cognitive or physical one. Empathy involves the accurate perception of another’s emotional state as well as the ability to experience similar or congruent emotions. This entry explains the importance of empathy from several distinct theoretical perspectives, explores psychological factors associated with the development of empathy, and describes how empathy may relate to various societal concerns, including issues of diversity.

Theoretical Perspectives on ...

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