Empathy has many different definitions, some with multiple parts. However, most definitions share the idea of one person's response to his or her perceptions of another person's current experience. Use of the word in English is relatively new, appearing at the beginning of the 20th century, often in discussions of art. Its origins are traced to the German word Einfühlung, which translates literally as “feeling into” (as in projecting oneself into something else). Besides generating research within the field of social psychology, the study of empathy has also figured prominently in client-centered psychotherapy.

Much has been made of the distinction between empathy and sympathy, but the two terms are often used interchangeably. When a distinction is made (particularly in philosophical contexts), empathy is often defined as ...

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