What is Empathy?

The concept of empathy as we know it is a relatively new one, only dating back to about 100 years ago. In basic terms, empathy is the ability to understand and share in another person’s feelings. Basically, “I feel what you feel.”

Different fields define empathy differently:

From the cognitive scientists’ perspective, they define empathy as “emotional contagion” or experience sharing,” aka empathic understanding, affective empathy or emotional empathy.

Below diagram demonstrate the purpose dual system model with two systems:

System 1:

  • Operate automatically
  • Develop early in human, instinctive
  • Also found in a wide range of other species

System 2:

  • Controlled processing
  • Develop later
  • Involved with mind reading, which can be unique in human or fewer species (a possible study topic!)