Contributions of Neuroscience to a New Empathy Epistemology: Implications for Developmental Training
The difficulty in comprehending the epistemology of empathy lies in shifting paradigms which have resulted in empathy being viewed as vague and elusive. Such elusive understanding of empathy has confused research, practice, and advancement of therapeutic principles. Empathy is the core of all social and intellectual transformation. Humankind is biologically programmed to use empathy for survival, health, and well-being. Pursuing and understanding empathy frees human capacity for wisdom. Studying the epistemology of empathy is operationally and scientifically relevant in the synthesis of an empathic practice theory. Clear epistemic definition and neuroscience provide the foundation for an expanding discovery of rational frameworks for a clinician’s empathic training and teaching. A clinician’s empathic ability requires competency in reflective, global, affective, cognitive, and interpersonal perspective-taking. Once understood, renewed curriculum for teaching and training are recommended that would produce more finite outcomes. Epistemic review culminates in empathy skills training over the course of curricula at the undergraduate (BSW) and graduate (MSW) levels.
Aksan, N., & Kochanska, G. (2005). Conscience in childhood: Old questions, new answers. Developmental Psychology, 41, 506-516.
Abu-Akel, A., Palgi, S., Klein, E., Decety, J., & Shamay-Tsoory (2014). Oxytocin increases empathy to pain when adopting the other—but not the self-perspective.
Social Neuroscience. Retrieved from http://sharonpalgi.co.il/professional _articles/open/OT%20increases%20empathy%20to%20pain%20when%20adopting%20the%20other. pdf
Agosta, L. (2015). A rumor of empathy: Resistance, narrative, and recovery in psychoanalysis and psychotherapy. New York, NY: Routledge, Taylor & Frances Group.
Atkinson, A. P. (2007). Face processing and empathy. In T. F. D. Farrow and P. W. R. Woodruff (eds.). Empathy in mental health, New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 360-386.
Barraza, J. A., & Zak, P. J. (2009). Empathy toward strangers triggers oxytocin release and subsequent generosity. School of Organizational and Behavioral Studies and Center for Neuroeconomics studies, Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, CA.
Batson, C. D. (2009). Two forms of perspective taking: Imagining how another feels and imagining how you would feel. In K. D. Markman, W. M. Klein, & J. A. Suhr (Eds.), Handbook of imagination and mental simulation (pp. 267-279). New York: Psychology Press.
Bergland, C. (2013). The neuroscience of empathy: Neuroscientists identify specific brain areas linked to compassion. Psychology Today. https://www.psychology today.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201310/the-neuroscience-empathy
Bohart, A. & Greenberg. L. (1997). Empathy reconsidered: New directions in psychotherapy. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Bogo, M., Rawlings, M., Katz, E., and Logie, C. (2014). Using simulation in assessment and teaching. Alexandria, VA: Council on Social Work Education.
Buckman, R., Tulskey, J. A., & Rodin, G. (2011). Empathic responses in clinical practice: Intuition or tuition? Canadian Medical Association Journal, 183(5), 569-571. doi: 10.1503/cmaj.090113
Canale, D., Louis, D. Z., Maio, V., Wang, X., Rossi, G., Hojat, M., &
Gonnella, J. S. (2012). The relationship between physician empathy and disease complications: An empirical study of primary care physicians and
Their diabetic patients in Parma, Italy. Academic Medicine, 87(9), 1243-9.
Carkhuff, R. R. (1969). Helping and human relationships. Volumes I & II. Selection and training, practice and research. New York, NY: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1969. New York, NY: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1969.
Center for Building the Culture of Empathy (n.d.). Benefits of empathy. http://cultureofempathy.com/
Chambers, J. R., & Davis, M. H. (2012). The role of the self in perspective-taking and empathy: Ease of self-simulation as a heuristic for inferring empathic feelings. Social Cognition, 30, 153-180.
Chambless, D. (1993). Taskforce on promotion and dissemination of psychological procedures: A position adopted by board division 12, American Psychological Association. http://div12.org/sites/default/files/Initial ReportOfThe ChamblessTaskForce.pdf
Chen, A., Kiersma, M. E., Yehle, K. S., & Plake, K. S. (2015). Impact of an aging simulation game on pharmacy students’ empathy for older adults. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 79(5), 1-5.
Christov-Moore, L., Simpson, E. A., Coude, G., Grigaityte, K., Iacoboni, M., & Ferrari, P. F. (2014). Empathy: Gender effects in brain and behavior. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, (46)4, 604-627.
Compton, B. R., Galaway, B., & Cournoyer, B. R. (2005) Social work processes (7th ed.). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole.
Dearing, K. S., & Steadman (2009). Enhancing intellectual empathy: The lived experience of voice simulation. Perspectives in Psychiatric Care, 45(3), 173-182. doi: 10.1111/j.1744-6163.2009.00219.x.
Decety, J., Chen, C., Harenski, C., & Kiehl, K. A. (2013). An fMRI study of affective perspective taking in individuals with psychopathy: Imagining another in pain does not evoke empathy. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2013.00489
Decety, J., & Svetlova, M. (2012). Putting together phylogenetic and ontogenetic perspectives on empathy. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 2, 1-24.
Dehning, S., Gasperi, S., Krase, D., Meyer, S., Reiss, E., Burger, M., Jacobs, F., Buchheim, A., Mueller, N., & Siebeck, M. (2013). Emotional and cognitive empathy in first-year medical students. Psychiatry, online. doi: 10.1155/ 013/801530
Demasio, A. R. (1994). Decartes’ error: Emotion, reason, and the human brain. New York, NY: Harper.
Dinkins, C. (2011). Ethics: Beyond patient care: Practicing empathy in the workplace. The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 16(2), http://www.nursingworld.org/ MainMenuCategories/ANAMarketplace/ANAPeriodicals/OJIN/Columns/Ethics/Empathy-in-the-Workplace.html
do Amaral, J. R., & de Oliveira, J. M. (n.d.) Limbic system: The center of emotions. www.cerebromente.org.br/n05/mente/limbi_i.htm
Eisenberg and Eggum (2009) Empathy responding: Sympathy and personal distress. Decety J., & Ickes, W. (eds). The social science of empathy 77-83. Cambridge, MA: MIT Cambridge Press.
Elliott, R., Bohart, A. C., Watson, J. C., & Greenberg, L. S. (2011). Empathy. Psychotherapy, 48, 43-49. doi:10.1037/a0022187
Eres, R., Decety, J., Louis, W. R., & Molenberghs, P. (2015). Individual differences in local gray matter density are associated with differences in affective and cognitive empathy. NeuroImage, 117, 305-310.
Erez, A., & Isen, A. M. (2002). The influence of positive affect on the components of expectancy motivation. Journal of Applied Psychology, 87, 1055–1067.
Felten, P., Gilchrist, L. Z., & Darby A. (2006). Emotion and Learning: Feeling our way toward a new theory of reflection in service-learning. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, 38-46.
Frederickson, B. L. (2001). The role of positive emotions in positive psychology: The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions. American Psychology, 56(3), 218-226.
Furman, R. (2005). Using poetry and written exercises to teach empathy. Journal of Poetry and Therapy: The Interdisciplinary, 18(2), online
Gardner, H. (2006). Multiple intelligences: New horizons. New York, NY: Basic Books.
Gerdes, K. E., & Segal, E. A. (2009). A social work model of empathy. Advances in Social Work, 1(2), 114-127.
Gholipour, B. (2013). The strange case of “hyper-empathy” after brain surgery. LiveScience. http://www.livescience.com/39560-hyper-empathy-case-report.html
Goleman, D. (2006). Social intelligence: The new science of social relationships. New York, NY: Bantam Books.
Goldstein, E. R., & Winner, E. (2012). Enhancing empathy and the theory of mind. Journal of Cognition and Development, 13(1), 19-37.
Greenberg, D. M., Rentfrow, P. J., & Baron-Cohen, S. (2015). Can music increase empathy? Interpreting musical experience through the empathizing-systemizing (E-S) theory: Implications for autism. Empirical Musicology Review, 10(1), 79-94.
Gu, X., Hof, P. R., Friston, K. J., & Fan, J. (2013). Anterior insular cortex and emotional awareness. Journal of Comprehensive Neurology, 521(15), 3371-3388.
Hampton, K., Rainie, L., Weixu, L. Inyoung, S., & Purcell, K. (2015). Social media and the cost of caring. Pew Research Center, http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/01/15/social-media-and-stress/
Healy, K. (2001). Participatory action research and social work: A critical appraisal. International Social Work, 44(1), 93-105.
Hieker, C., & Huffington, C. (2005). Reflexive questions in a coaching psychology context, International Coaching Psychology Review, 1(2), 47-56.
Immordino-Yang, M. H. (2016). Emotions, learning, and the brain: Exploring the educational implications of affective neuroscience. New York, NY: W. W. Norton.
Immordino-Yang, M. H., & Damasio, A. (2007). We feel, therefore we learn: The relevance of affective and social neuroscience to education. Mind, Brain, and Education, 1(1), 3-10.
Jemczura, T. (2005). Empathy as a form of interpersonal communication. Pedagogika, 22-27.
Kane, D. (2004). How your brain handles love and pain. Science. http://www.nbcnews. com/id/4313263/ns/technology_and_science-science/t/how-your-brain-handles-love-pain/#.VtpE3uZ0eSo
Kanter, R. M. (2012). Ten reasons people resist change. Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2012/09/ten-reasons-people-resist-chang/
Keltner, D. (2010). The compassionate instinct: The science of human goodness, Keltner, D., Marsh, J., & Smith, A. J. (eds.). New York, NY: W. W. Norton.
Kohut, H. (1978). Introspection, empathy, and psychoanalysis: An examination of the relationship between mode of observation and theory. In P. Ornstein (Ed.), The search for the self (Vol. 1, pp. 205–232). New York, NY: International Universities Press.
Lachmann, F. M. (2008). Transforming narcissism: Reflections from empathy, humor, and expectations. New York, NY: Routledge.
Larson, E., & Yao, X. (2005). Clinical empathy as emotional labor in the patient-physician relationship, JAMA, 293(9), 1100-1106.
LeDoux, J. (2002). Synaptic self: How our brains become who we are. New York, NY: Viking.
Leece, S., Caputi M., & Capnin A. (2014). Long-term effect of theory of mind on school achievement: The role of sensitivity to criticism. European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 11(3), 305-318. doi: 10.1080/17405629.2013.821944
Lehrer, J. (2010). How we decide. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin.
Marcum, J. A. (2013). The role of empathy and wisdom in medical practice and pedagogy: Confronting the hidden curriculum. Journal of Biomedical Education, 2013, http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/923810, 8 pages
Martin, L. J., Hathaway, G., Isbester K., Mirali, S., Acland E. L., Niederstrasser, N., Slepian P. M., & Trost, Z. (2015). Reducing social stress elicits emotional contagion of pain in mouse and human strangers, Current Biology, 25(3), 326-332.
McMillian, R. L. (2010). Teaching nursing students empathic communication: A mandate from the code of ethics for nursing, Online Journal of Health Ethics, 6(1), Article 7.
Melchers, M., Li, M., Chen, Y., Zhang, W., & Montag, C. (2015). Low empathy is associated with problematic use of the Internet: Empirical evidence from China and Germany. Asian Journal of Psychiatry, 17, 55-60. Doi: 10.1016/j.ajp.2015.06.019.
Miehls, D., & Moffatt, K. (2000). Constructing social work identity based on the reflexive self. British Association of Social Workers, 30(3), 339-348.
Mount Sinai Medical Center (2012). Areas of that brain that process empathy defined. Brain, September Issue.
Mutschler, I., Reinbold, C., Wankerl, J., Seifritz, E., & Ball, T. (2013). Frontiers in Human. Structural Basis of Empathy and the General Domain Region in the Anterior Insular Cortex. Neuroscience, 7, 177-183. http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2013.00177
Nanda, S. (2015). Are there gender differences in empathy? Undergraduate Journal of Psychology at Berkley, 7. http://ujpb.org/research/volume-7/are-there-gender-differences-in-empathy/
National Association of Social Work (1999). Social work code of ethics. NASW http://socialworkers.org/pubs/code/default.asp
Paul, R. (1993). Critical thinking, moral, integrity, and citizenship. The Critical Thinking Community. http://www.criticalthinking.org
Rosenberg, M. B. (2015). Nonviolent communication: A language of life (3rd). PuddleDancer Press.
Ruben, J. (2015). Can social work students learn empathy? Social Work Today, 15(2), https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/can-social-work-students-learn-empathy-victoria-baker
Segal, E. A., & Wagaman, M. A. (2015). Social empathy as a framework to infuse competency in advancement of social and economic justice in social work education, Society for Social Work and Research (SSWR) The Society for Social and Behavioral Importance of Increased Longevity – January 14-18, 2015 Conference.
Shamay-Tsoory S. G., Abu-Akel A, Palgi S., Sulieman R., Fischer-Shofty M., Levkovitz Y., & Decety J. (2013). Giving peace a chance: oxytocin increases empathy to pain in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Psychoneuro- endocrinology, 38(12), 3139-44. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2013.09.015
Shamay-Tsoory, S. G., Fisher, M. Dyash, J., Harari, H., Perach-Bloom, N., & Levkovitz, Y. (2009). Intranasal administration of oxytocin increases envy and schadenfreude (gloating). Biological Psychiatry, 66(9), 864-870. doi: 10.1016/jbiopsych.2009.06.009.
Siew-Rong, W. (2008). Humor and empathy: Students developing empathy through teaching robots to tell English jokes. IEEE Computer Society, 213-214.Sperry, L., Carlson, J., & Kjos, D. (2002). Becoming an effective therapist. Allyn & Bacon.
Sinclair, S. L., & Monk, G. (2006). Discursive empathy: A new foundation for therapeutic practice. British Journal of Guidance & Counselling, 33(3), 333–349.
Trevithick, P., Richards, S., Ruch, G. and Moss, B. (2004) Teaching and Learning Communication Skills in Social Work Education, SCIE Knowledge Review 6, Bristol, Policy Press.
van Lutterveld, R., Houlihan, S. D. Pal, P., Sacchet, M. D., McFarlane-Blake, C., Patel, P. R., Sullivan, J. S., Ossadtchi, A., Druker, S., Bauer, C., & Brewer, J. A. (2016). Source-space EEG neurofeedback links subjective experience with brain activity during effortless awareness meditation. NeuroImage (in press).
Wanjet, C. (2013). The right-brain versus the left brain: It’s a myth research finds. LiveScience. http://www.livescience.com/39373-left-brain-right-brain-myth.html
Ward, J., Cody, J., Schaal, M., & Hojat, M. (2015). The empathy enigma: An empirical study of decine in empathy among undergraduate nursing students. Journal of Professional Nursing, 28, 34-40.
Yaniv, D. (2012). Dynamics and creativity of empathy in role reversal: Contributions from neuroscience, Review of General Psychology, American Psychological Association, 16(1), 70-77.
Zaleski, K., Araque, J., Sela-Amit, M., Finney, K., Harper, H., & Lewis, J. (2015) USC study feels out empathy in students, by S. Shin, USCNews, https://news.usc.edu/82898/usc-study-feels-out-empathy-in-students/