Tuesday, September 06, 2016

When it comes to empathy, don't always trust your gut


Public Release: 22-Jul-2016
When it comes to empathy, don't always trust your gut
Systematic reasoning appears to beat intuition for recognizing emotions in others, study says
American Psychological Association

Is empathy the result of gut intuition or careful reasoning? Research published by the American Psychological Association suggests that, contrary to popular belief, the latter may be more the case.

"Cultivating successful personal and professional relationships requires the ability to accurately infer the feelings of others - that is, to be empathically accurate. Some are better at this than others, a difference that may be explained in part by mode of thought," said Jennifer Lerner, PhD, of Harvard University, a co-author of the study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology


Individuals process information and make decisions in different ways, according to Lerner. Some choose to follow their instincts and go with what feels right to them (i.e., intuitive) while others plan carefully and analyze the information available to them before deciding (i.e., systematic).

Lerner and her co-author, Christine Ma-Kellams, PhD, of the University of La Verne, conducted four studies, involving over 900 participants, to examine the relationship between the two modes of thought and empathetic accuracy. The first determined that most people believe that intuition is a better guide than systematic thinking to accurately infer another's thoughts and feelings. The other three studies found that the opposite is true.


These findings are important because they show that commonly held assumptions about what makes someone a good emotional mind reader may be wrong, said Lerner. "The many settings in which the value of intuition is extolled -- for example a job interview -- may need to be reassessed with a more nuanced perspective."

No comments:

Post a Comment