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The Social Neuroscience of Empathy$
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Jean Decety and William Ickes

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780262012973

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262012973.001.0001

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Emotional Contagion and Empathy

Emotional Contagion and Empathy

Chapter:
(p.19) 2 Emotional Contagion and Empathy
Source:
The Social Neuroscience of Empathy
Author(s):

Elaine Hatfield

Richard L. Rapson

Yen-Chi L. Le

Publisher:
The MIT Press
DOI:10.7551/mitpress/9780262012973.003.0003

Most clinical and counseling psychologists have identified three distinct skills required in true empathy: the ability to share the other person’s feelings, the cognitive ability to intuit what another person is feeling, and a “socially beneficial” intention to respond compassionately to that person’s distress. Scholars from various disciplines, including sociology, biology, neuroscience, social psychology, and life-span psychology, argue that primitive emotional contagion—a basic building block of human interaction that allows people to understand and to share the feelings of others—can shed light on human cognition, emotion, and behavior. This chapter discusses emotional contagion and describes three stages in the process of emotional contagion: mimicry, feedback, and contagion.

Keywords:   empathy, emotional contagion, cognition, emotion, behavior, mimicry, feedback, contagion, primitive emotional contagion, social psychology

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