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The Empathy Option: The Science of How and Why We Choose to Be Empathetic

Aren’t feelings automatic, something that happens without conscious effort? Sometimes, but Daryl Cameron also said that we often make a choice of whether — and toward whom — we’re empathetic. Across several studies, he and his colleagues have demonstrated that we do indeed opt out of being empathetic, and they’re closer to understanding one reason why. And while it can seem like a negative thing, Cameron said the fact that we do have the ability to choose has an upside. “If our goal is to inspire more empathy to bridge social divides, then maybe knowing how and why people sometimes choose to not feel it could suggest a lever for pushing people in the opposite direction — to choose empathy.”

 

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