Essay On Empathy

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EMPATHY: A significant Pro-social behavior

Shohinee Deb

In the human world of reality when most people are rushing by driven with self-centered motives of ambition, financial gains, independence, it is surprising and of course very rare to observe a stranger helping out another complete stranger in need of assistance. A more common scene is that of pluralistic ignorance i.e. of an observer/ bystander in an emergency situation, involving someone in need of assistance, to rely on the reactions of other observers present, even though none of them is sure about how to react. More often than not, all the observers hold back and behave as if the problematic situation does not exist. Thus, it is interesting to observe behaviors in
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(2003) empathy can be conceptually divided into affective & cognitive response to another person’s emotional state and includes “sympathy, a desire to solve the problem of other, & taking the perspective of the other person.” An empathetic person feels what another person is feeling & understands why that person feels as he/she does. (Azar, 1997; Darley 1993; Duan, 2000).

The cognitive component of empathy includes the ability to consider the viewpoint of another person, referred to as ‘perspective taking’. Batson, Erly & Salvarini(1997) have identified 3 different types of perspective taking :- • A person can imagine how the other person perceives an event & how he/she must feel as a result –taking the ‘imagine other’ perspective. Those who take this perspective experience relatively pure empathy.
• A person may imagine how he himself would feel, taking the ‘imagine self’ perspective. People who think like this also feel empathy, but tend to be motivated by self interest.
• This perspective taking involves identifying with fictional characters- feeling empathy for someone/ some creature in a story. In this phenomenon, there is an emotional reaction to joys, sorrows, fears of character in a book, movie or a TV programme.
(Baron A.R, Byrne D., Nyla R.B. (2008) Social Psychology, 11th
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