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Two Types of Empathy Elicit Different Health Effects, Penn Psychologist Shows

Katherine Unger Baillie, ‘Two Types of Empathy Elicit Different Health Effects, Penn Psychologist Shows’,, University of Pennsylvania (May 24, 2017)

Thinking of others

The (…) act of helping induced a physiological change in all of the participants, but the quality of that change differed between the groups. The first group, imagining themselves as the suffering other students showed signs of the physiological fight-or-flight response, as though they themselves were responding to a threat. The members of the second group, imagining the feelings of the sufferers, showed a more invigorating arousal response, as if they were confronting a challenge that is eminently manageable. (…) Empathy is very important, and for a lot of care givers probably is the reason they chose their field. (…) We don’t have to teach our medical professionals to suppress that emotional response; we just have to try to help them have the right kind of response, thinking of others as opposed to thinking how they would feel in the same situation.

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