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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

(p.19) 2 Emotional Contagion and Empathy
The Social Neuroscience of Empathy

Elaine Hatfield

Richard L. Rapson

Yen-Chi L. Le

The MIT Press

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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