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.
From The Editors
An Interview with Bowling Alone author Robert Putnam
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 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.
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
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 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?
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.
A review of Happiness: Lessons From a New Science by Richard Layard and Happiness: The Science Behind Your Smile by Daniel Nettle
Edited by P. Alex Linley and Stephen Joseph
Wiley, 2004, 770 pages
By Marc Ian Barasch
Rodale, 2005, 367 pages
By Alfie Kohn
Atria Books, 2005, 264 pages
Ideas for the Greater Good
What message are we sending kids when their classrooms are an “insult to aesthetics”?
A new study finds that troubled people can reap enormous benefits from keeping a journal that focuses their attention on the good things in life.
Putting something off can trigger a downward negative spiral. But a recent study suggests that being kind to yourself can help you achieve your goals.
Research shows that the spark of kindness resides in everyone, and even small school actions can fan that spark into a flame.
Greater Good Events
Take a Greater Good Quiz!
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Watch Greater Good Videos
Talks by inspiring speakers like Jon Kabat-Zinn, Dacher Keltner, and Barbara Fredrickson.Watch
Greater Good Resources
- "Gratitude and Prosocial Behavior"
Finds that feeling gratitude produces kind and helpful behavior, even when that behavior is costly to the individual actor.
- "Compassion: An Evolutionary Analysis and Empirical Review"
Compassion evolved as a distinct affective experience whose function is to enable cooperation and protection of those who...
- "From Jerusalem to Jericho"
This article on bystander intervention in emergency situations suggests that we are likely to help a “shabbily dressed”...
- Center for Investigating Healthy Minds
The Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, runs a state-of-the-art neuroscience...
- Northeast Foundation for Children
Northeast Foundation for Children is a non-profit educational organization that offers educators the Responsive Classroom...
- Center for Positive Organizational Scholarship
Based at the University of Michigan Business School, this is a networking community for researchers and practitioners...
Book of the Week
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Dr. Christine Carter's blog on the science of raising happy kids.» READ MORE
SponsorsSpecial thanks to
The Quality of Life Foundation for its support of the Greater Good Science Center
Best-selling author and founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program