Empathy – The Result of the Study
Last week, you—and everyone who read our first article—were part of a risky (my peers would actually call it suicidal) experiment.
“We” made spelling and grammatical errors ON PURPOSE. If you want to read the article, please follow this link. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/ive-learned-people-forget-what-you-said-did-never-how-susan/
The reason for this experiment was to gauge the level of empathy in the media. And, unsurprisingly, the results demonstrated that empathy is sorely missing amongst our peers and the general public. This lack of empathy is one of the main contributing factors to the #1 failure in human interaction: communication.
Plainly put, communication matters. In big ways and in small ways. A funny example of how much it matters is the story about how David Lee Roth from Van Halen, my dear friend Bill always said, Roth used to put crazy requests in his concert performance riders. He wanted only green M&Ms, only water from the French Riviera, etc. When he would show up for the concert, if those requirements weren’t met, he knew that the venue representatives hadn’t actually read the contract. This would tip him off that he would have to check for all the other requirements and safety issues being addressed himself.
It was both funny and terrifying to see the results of this live experiment and to see communication in action. We found that there were typically four types of responses to the article:
- People who were aware of me looking “bad” in the article
- People who offered to help me edit the article.
- People who loved the article and shared it on social media.
- People who had mean things to say about the article and the worst about me.
It was obvious that the last category of people was more concerned with being right than with helping or offering up friendly advice. Shockingly enough, some of the people from this category didn’t even remember what the article was about, but they were very quick to remark about all the mistakes contained within it. Not even seeing the big picture of how the INFORMATION in the article is very helpful for people, they instead chose to contemptuously refer to corrections that needed to be made.
The reason for this craziness?
This crazy idea to test empathy in a real, live scenario came from reading the book, Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion by Paul Bloom, a professor of psychology at Yale. In it, Bloom draws a distinction between empathy (the ability to feel other people’s pain) and compassion (desiring others’ well-being). According to Bloom, society needs less of the former and more of the latter. In a podcast hosted by philosopher Sam Harris last December, Professor Bloom went on to say that empathy favors people you know over people you don’t—and this favoritism leads to harmful behaviors such as tribalism and nationalism. (You can read more at: https://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/what-if-parents-loved-strangers-children-as-much-as-their-own)
Well, let’s say that’s true.
As of today, we have received 247 emails with commentary. The leftover numbers are from those who are seeking information about the use of Physiognomy in the job and/or love situations (who knew so many bachelors were here 😊).
Definition of Empathy:
An affinity, association, or relationship between persons or things wherein whatever affects one similarly affects the other- inclination to think or feel alike: emotional or intellectual accord- the act or capacity of entering into or sharing the feelings or interests of another.
Now that we have the definition of empathy, we can explore how the lack of this simple word is affecting us. In the experiment, we found that people who knew us were more empathetic, while those who were strangers were remarkably aggressive.
In the book, Wired to Care by Dev Patnaik, the author points out that the major flaw that we have in business practice today is the lack of empathy within large corporations. Patnaik says, “…lacking any sense of empathy, people inside companies struggle to make intuitive decisions and often get fooled into believing they understand their business if they have quantitative research to rely upon.” Marie Miyashiro states something similar in her book, The Empathy Factor, “Nonviolent Communication is an effective way to give employees and customers a better sense of mission and working as a group.” In a study done by Management Research Group, they found that empathy was the strongest sign of ethical leadership behavior—actually it was one of the three major predictors of effectiveness.
Empathy is generally divided into two major components:
• Affective empathy also called emotional empathy: the capacity to respond with an appropriate emotion to another’s mental states. Our ability to empathize emotionally is based on emotional contagion: being affected by another’s emotional or arousal state. (Simone G. Shamay-Tsoory; Judith Aharon-Peretz; Daniella Perry (2009).
• Cognitive empathy: the capacity to understand another’s perspective or mental state. The terms cognitive empathy and theory of mind or mentalizing are often used synonymously, but due to a lack of studies comparing the theory of mind with types of empathy, it is unclear whether these are equivalent. (Kimberley Rogers; Isabel Dziobek; Jason Hassenstab; Oliver T. Wolf; Antonio Convit (2007)
Some literature shows that women tend to be more empathetic than men. On average, women score higher than the man on the Empathy Quotient (EQ) (https://psychology-tools.com/empathy-quotient/), while men score higher on the Systemizing Quotient (SQ) (https://openpsychometrics.org/tests/EQSQ.php). (Baron-Cohen, Simon (2003).
So, next time you see somebody struggling to ask questions or making mistakes and they are asking for help, level up and maybe we can start the movement toward a new Empathetic era. Everybody needs help at some point.
Please comment and share this article if you like it. Information is power and empathy is part of our communication, let’s exercise it =)
PS—Thank you to all the friends who offered to edit our articles. It is good to know that we have so many friends out there =) XoXo -Special thanks to Eliane Gartner your Empathy and knowledge are inspiring.
Susan Ibitz– Human Behavior Lab – The Science behind Human Behavior, Deception, Physiognomy & Linguistics. humanbehaviorlab.com
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