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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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Empathy and Knowledge Projection

Empathy and Knowledge Projection

(p.43) 4 Empathy and Knowledge Projection
The Social Neuroscience of Empathy

Raymond S. Nickerson

Susan F. Butler

Michael Carlin

The MIT Press

Empathy refers to shared or vicarious feeling, the ability to imagine oneself in the other’s situation and to experience the emotions that he/she is experiencing. The concept of empathy also has a more cognitive aspect due to the fact that it involves participating in another’s feelings or ideas. This chapter examines how people form beliefs about what others feel and know and whether one’s ability to empathize is based, at least in part, on the other’s tendency to project to someone his/her own feelings and knowledge. It first explains the importance in communication of judging what others know, how they feel, and what they are likely to do in specific situations. It then considers the ability to project oneself to others and the phenomenon known as reflection, which is projection in reverse. It also explores the limits of projection and the naturalness of empathy.

Keywords:   empathy, feelings, knowledge, communication, reflection, projection

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