Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Thinking and feeling

Cognitive empathy is not what I would consider empathy. How is being able to predict how someone will react that depends only on observation different from being able to predict when the tides will turn based on observation? But we wouldn't say it means we have empathy with the tides.

Public Release: 7-Mar-2016
'Thinking and feeling'
UC Santa Barbara researchers studying empathy in relationships find that in the absence of caring, understanding alone doesn't cut it when stressful situations arise
University of California - Santa Barbara


When stress sets in, many of us turn to a partner to help us manage by being a sounding board or shoulder to cry on. Your odds of actually feeling better are much improved if they're both those things.

New research by psychologists at UC Santa Barbara reveals that simply understanding your partner's suffering isn't sufficient to be helpful in a stressful situation; you've got to actually care that they're suffering in the first place.

The findings, published in the journal Psychological Science, provide the first evidence that cognitive and affective forms of empathy work together to facilitate responsive behavior.

"When people were empathically accurate -- when they had an accurate understanding of their partner's thoughts and feelings -- they were more responsive only when they also felt more empathic concern, more compassion and motivation to attend to their partner's needs," explained lead author Lauren Winczewski, a graduate student in UCSB's Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences. "People might assume that accurate understanding is all it takes to be responsive, but understanding a partner's thoughts and feelings was helpful only when listeners were also feeling more compassionate and sympathetic toward their partner. When listeners had accurate knowledge but did not feel compassionate, they tended to be less supportive and responsive."


"You can know very well what your partner is thinking and feeling -- maybe you've heard this story 17 times, the fight with the boss and so on -- but if you don't care?" said Winczewski. "Having accurate knowledge in the absence of compassionate feelings may even undermine responsiveness."


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