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date: 23 February 2019

Abstract and Keywords

A major question in the study of empathy—the capacity to share and understand others’ internal states—is whether it can be increased. Scientists have designed a number of effective interventions through which to build empathy, especially in cases where it typically wanes. Here we review these efforts, which often focus on either enhancing individuals’ skills in experiencing empathy or expressing empathy to others. We then propose a novel approach to intervention based on a motivated account of empathy: not only teaching people how to empathize, but also encouraging them to want to empathize. Research traditions from social psychology offer several ways of increasing empathic motivation, which can complement existing work and broaden the palette of applied scientists seeking to help people develop their capacities to care for and understand others.

Keywords: interventions, empathy, self-oriented interventions, group-based interventions, situation-based interventions

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