Using Empathy to Improve Intergroup Attitudes and Relations

Batson, C. Daniel; Ahmad, Nadia Y.
Social Issues and Policy Review

Recently, social psychologists have given considerable attention to the possibility that empathy can be used to improve intergroup attitudes and relations. For this possibility to bear practical fruit, it is important to know what is meant by empathy because different researchers use the term to refer to different psychological states. It is also important to understand how each of these empathy states might affect intergroup relations by reviewing theory and research on the psychological processes involved, and it is important to consider the limitations of each form of empathy as a source of improved intergroup relations. Finally, it is important to consider the role of different empathy states in existing programs designed to improve intergroup relations, whether in protracted political conflicts, in educational settings, or via media. In this article, we pursue each of these goals. © 2009 The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues.