Chapter

Understanding Empathy:

Amy Coplan

in Empathy

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199539956
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191730931 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199539956.003.0002
Understanding Empathy:

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The goal of this chapter is to propose a narrow conceptualization of empathy as a complex imaginative process in which an observer simulates another person's situated psychological states [both cognitive and affective] while maintaining clear self‐other differentiation. Theoretical and methodological reasons are given to support this conceptualization, which focuses on three principal features of empathy: affective matching, other‐oriented perspective taking, and self‐other differentiation. The proposed narrow conceptualization differs in some important respects from recent conceptualizations offered by philosophers and social scientists yet captures several of the key intuitive characteristics of the ordinary use of the term empathy and dovetails with recent empirical research.

Keywords: empathy; perspective Taking; personal distress; emotional contagion; self‐other differentiation; affective matching; ampathic understanding

Chapter.  8128 words. 

Subjects: Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art

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