Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

I Totally Empathize With You ... Sometimes: Effects Of Empathy On Ethnic Group Interactions

Date:
February 19, 2009
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
A new study reveals that empathy for minority groups has a much less positive effect when it is triggered in the context of an actual intergroup interaction situation than it does when directed toward minority group members in the abstract. The researchers surmise that empathy has a negative effect during interactions with members of the minority group because the empathetic individuals become preoccupied with how they will be viewed by that minority group.

Increased empathy toward minority group members is one way to reduce prejudice and promote more positive inter-group relationships. When individuals take on the perspective of someone from a different group, a number of processes and feelings are set in motion that should lead to more positive feelings toward members of that group. But University of Manitoba psychologists Jacquie D. Vorauer and Stacey J. Sasaki wanted to investigate the effect of empathy in actual interactions with minority group members.

Related Articles


Volunteers were shown a brief segment of a documentary detailing the hardships endured by members of a minority group and were instructed to view it with an objective or an empathetic mindset. The volunteers expected to discuss the video with another study participant, who was either from the same ethnic group as they were or from the minority group depicted in the documentary. The partners never actually met; instead they had controlled interactions in which written personal information was exchanged (in reality, only the researchers read the written responses).

The results, described in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, reveal that empathy for minority groups has a much less positive effect when it is triggered in the context of an actual intergroup interaction situation than it does when directed toward minority group members in the abstract. The researchers found that the volunteers who had viewed the video with empathy and were told they were paired with a participant from a minority group reported more negative feelings towards minority group members, including greater feelings of prejudice. However, the empathetic volunteers who had been paired up with participants from their own ethnic group reported a more positive attitude towards minority group members.

The researchers surmise that empathy has a negative effect during interactions with members of the minority group because the empathetic individuals become preoccupied with how they will be viewed by that minority group. That is, these individuals focus so much on what the others will think of them (specifically, thinking about how the majority group might be viewed as prejudiced or be criticized for having mistreated the minority group in the past), that any empathy they have for the minority group takes a backseat and they begin to dwell on negative feelings that minority group members have toward them instead, which can then lead to more negative attitudes toward that group. The researchers conclude that these findings suggest that when we think about other ethnic groups in the abstract, the resulting attitudes may be very different from the feelings we actually experience during interactions with members of those groups.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Helpful Only in the Abstract? Ironic Effects of Empathy in Intergroup Interaction. Psychological Science, (in press)

Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "I Totally Empathize With You ... Sometimes: Effects Of Empathy On Ethnic Group Interactions." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 February 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090218141951.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2009, February 19). I Totally Empathize With You ... Sometimes: Effects Of Empathy On Ethnic Group Interactions. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090218141951.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "I Totally Empathize With You ... Sometimes: Effects Of Empathy On Ethnic Group Interactions." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090218141951.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Science & Society News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Texas Nurse Nina Pham Cured of Ebola

Texas Nurse Nina Pham Cured of Ebola

AFP (Oct. 25, 2014) An American nurse who contracted Ebola while caring for a Liberian patient in Texas has been declared free of the virus and will leave the hospital. Duration: 01:01 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

AFP (Oct. 24, 2014) A factory in China is busy making Ebola protective suits for healthcare workers and others fighting the spread of the virus. Duration: 00:38 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) The World Health Organization said on Friday that millions of doses of two experimental Ebola vaccines could be ready for use in 2015 and five more experimental vaccines would start being tested in March. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Microsoft Riding High On Strong Surface, Cloud Performance

Microsoft Riding High On Strong Surface, Cloud Performance

Newsy (Oct. 24, 2014) Microsoft's Q3 earnings showed its tablets and cloud services are really hitting their stride. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Science & Society

Business & Industry

Education & Learning

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins