Empathy, attitudes, and action: Can feeling for a member of a stigmatized group motivate one to help the group?

C. Daniel Batson, Johee Chang, Ryan Orr, Jennifer Rowland

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    384 Scopus citations

    Abstract

    Research reveals that inducing empathy for a member of a stigmatized group can improve attitudes toward the group as a whole. But do these more positive attitudes translate into action on behalf of the group? Results of an experiment suggested an affirmative answer to this question. Undergraduates first listened loan interview with a convicted heroin addict and dealer; they were then given a chance to recommend allocation of Student Senate funds to an agency to help drug addicts. (The agency would not help the addict whose interview they heard.) Participants induced to feel empathy for the addict allocated more funds to the agency. Replicating past results, these participants also reported more positive attitudes toward people addicted to hard drugs. In addition, an experimental condition in which participants were induced to feel empathy for a fictional addict marginally increased action on behalf of, and more positive attitudes toward, drug addicts.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)1656-1666
    Number of pages11
    JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
    Volume28
    Issue number12
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Dec 2002

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Social Psychology

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