Fall/Winter 2005-06 (Volume II, Issue 2)


The Science and Practice of Empathy

Can we really feel someone else’s pain? Research and stories featured in this issue of Greater Good shed light on our deeply rooted ability to empathize with other people, enabling us to feel their emotions as our own. Authors explore the biological roots of empathy, explain ways to cultivate it, and consider how current social conditions inhibit the expression of empathy in the United States. The issue also features an interview with Robert Putnam, author of the book Bowling Alone, about what Hurricane Katrina revealed about Americans’ sense of community.

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From The Editors

In Brief

A Test of Trust (02)

By | September 1, 2005


Everyday Achievements (03)

By | September 1, 2006

What’s the key to academic success for kids struggling in school, especially those coming from disadvantaged backgrounds?


Survival of the Social (04)

By | September 1, 2005



Rebuilding Community after Katrina (05)

By | September 1, 2005

An Interview with Bowling Alone author Robert Putnam



An example of consolation among chimpanzees: A juvenile puts an arm around a screaming adult male, who has just been defeated in a fight with his rival. Consolation probably reflects empathy, as the objective of the consoler seems to be to alleviate the distress of the other.

The Evolution of Empathy (06)

By | September 1, 2005

We tend to think of empathy as a uniquely human trait. But it’s something apes and other animals demonstrate as well, says primatologist Frans de Waal. He shows how our evolutionary history suggests a deep-rooted propensity for feeling the emotions of others.


The Terms of Empathy (07)

By | September 1, 2005


The Limits of Empathy (08)

By | September 1, 2005


The Chauffeur’s Dilemma (09)

By | September 1, 2005

The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting left behind. Why don’t more people stick up for fellow citizens facing hard times? Because, argues Arlie Hochschild, empathy is being squeezed from the American way of life.


A Feeling for Fiction (10)

By | September 1, 2005

Books, movies, and plays are more than just entertainment, says psychologist and novelist Keith Oatley. They train us in the art of being human. He explains how fictional works nurture empathy and enhance our social and emotional lives.


Acting on Empathy (11)

By | September 1, 2005


Feeling Like Partners (12)

By | September 1, 2005

When it comes to romantic relationships, empathy is essential, but it isn’t always easy, say family researchers Philip A. Cowan, Carolyn Pape Cowan, and Neera Mehta. They explain the obstacles couples face—and how to overcome them.


The View from Above the Fray (13)

By | September 1, 2005

A second-grade students at PS200 in Flushing, New York, participates in the Operation Respect anti-bullying program. This year the program is being implemented in every elementary and middle school in New York City.

The Bully Problem (14)

By | September 1, 2005

The results are in: Violence, insults, and intimidation among kids do more psychological harm than anyone anticipated. But can schools do anything about it?


Behind the Numbers at Branford High (15)

By | September 1, 2005


When Bullies are Victims (16)

By | September 1, 2005


Mother Nurture (17)

By | September 1, 2005

Darlene Francis’s research challenges the way we think about how our genes and our environment interact. Her findings offer some surprises—and some hope.


Book Reviews

Book Review: Pursuing the Science of Happiness (18)

By | September 1, 2005

A review of Happiness: Lessons From a New Science by Richard Layard and Happiness: The Science Behind Your Smile by Daniel Nettle


Book Review: Positive Psychology in Practice (19)

By | September 1, 2005

Edited by P. Alex Linley and Stephen Joseph
Wiley, 2004, 770 pages


Book Review: Field Notes on the Compassionate Life (20)

By | September 1, 2005

By Marc Ian Barasch
Rodale, 2005, 367 pages


Book Review: Unconditional Parenting (21)

By | September 1, 2005

By Alfie Kohn
Atria Books, 2005, 264 pages


Ideas for the Greater Good

Schools without Beauty (22)

By | September 1, 2005

What message are we sending kids when their classrooms are an “insult to aesthetics”?




Greater Good Events

Mindfulness and Well-Being at Work
Friday: Zellerbach Playhouse, UC Berkeley Saturday: DoubleTree by Hilton Berkeley Marina
November 13-14, 2015

Mindfulness and Well-Being at Work

Take a Greater Good Quiz!

How compassionate are you? How generous, grateful, or forgiving? Find out!


Watch Greater Good Videos

Jon Kabat-Zinn

Talks by inspiring speakers like Jon Kabat-Zinn, Dacher Keltner, and Barbara Fredrickson.


Greater Good Resources


Book of the Week

Self-Compassion By Kristin Neff Learn to be kind to yourself. A society obsessed with competition doesn't always make that an easy thing to do, but seeking after self-compassion, not self-esteem, is our ticket to happiness.

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"It is a great good and a great gift, this Greater Good. I bow to you for your efforts to bring these uplifting and illuminating expressions of humanity, grounded in good science, to the attention of us all."  
Jon Kabat-Zinn

Best-selling author and founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program

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