Ethnocultural empathy

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Ethnocultural empathy refers to the understanding of feelings of individuals that are ethnically and/or culturally different from ones’ self. This concept casts doubts on global empathy, which assumes that empathy is “feeling in oneself the feelings of others” and is not specifically targeting any one group (e.g. age, gender, and ethnicity) or context.[1] Ethnocultural empathy, on the other hand, assumes that empathy toward others probably increases if the other is similar to oneself in terms of ethnicity, gender, age, or cultural background.

Concept History[edit]

Traditionally, empathy is roughly defined as an intellectual ability of taking the role or perspective of another person and/or an emotional response to another person with the same emotional display.[2] As a part of personal traits, empathy has been established as relatively stable and consistent within a certain time period.[3][4] However, increasing research found that people usually hold different levels of empathy toward different individuals based on perceived psychological similarity. Two primary factors influencing the psychological similarity are ethnics and culture. Particularly, people usually feel more empathetic towards individuals who are in the same ethnic/cultural groups as they are than those who are not.

Quintana[5] defined ethnic perspective taking as a cognitive–developmental ability that could be reached as an individual proceeds through developmental life stages.[6][7] This development contains five stages of ethnic perspective-taking ability, including (1) physicalistic and observable perspective, (2) literal perspective, (3) non-literal and social perspective, (4) group perspective and (5) multicultural perspective of ethnicity. First, children begin to establish their ethnic identity by distinguishing themselves from other ethnic groups based on physical features. Once children understand the physical differences with other groups, they then are able to become aware of the perspectives, attitudes, experiences shared by other ethnic groups, and finally develop the ability to take the perspective of other ethnic groups.[8]

Ridley and Lingle[9] have defined cultural empathy as a “learned ability” which is composed of three subordinate processes: cognitive, affective, and communicative. Cognitive process can b e understood as a cultural perspective-taking and cultural self–other differentiation. Affective process includes vicarious affect and the expressive concern. Communicative process includes probing for insight and conveying accurate understanding.

Based on the ethnic perspective of perception and culture difference of empathy, Wang and her colleague[10] posed the concept “ethnocultural empathy.” Although this is a new concept, many previous research had addressed similar or related constructs although never formally terms it. Thus, concepts such as cultural empathy,[11] empathetic multicultural awareness,[12] ethnic perspective taking[13] are usually used interchangeably with “ethnocultural empathy”.

Constructs and Measurements[edit]

To date, the Scale of Ethnocultural Empathy (SEE) is the only formally published measurement of ethnocultural empathy.[14] SEE is composed of three instrumental aspects: intellectual empathy, empathic emotions, and the communication of those two.

Intellectual empathy is the ability to understand a racially or ethnically different person’s thinking and/or feeling. It is also the ability to perceive the world as the other person does; that is, racial or ethnic perspective taking.

The empathic emotions component of ethnocultural empathy is attention to the feeling of a person or persons from another ethnocultural group to the degree that one is able to feel the other’s emotional condition from the point of view of that person’s racial or ethnic culture. In addition, it refers to a person’s emotional response to the emotional display of a person or persons from another ethnocultural group.

The communicative empathy component is the expression of ethnocultural empathic thoughts (intellectual empathy) and feelings (empathic emotions) toward members of racial and ethnic groups different from one’s own. This component can be expressed through words or actions.

Application of the Ethnocultural Empathy[edit]

Ethnocultural empathy is usually applied in cross-culture and/or cross-ethnics analysis. The levels of ethnocultural empathy were reported to vary by demographic features and societal factors. Previous research indicated that women were more likely to report higher level of ethnocultural empathy than men,[15][16]Non-White individuals[where?] were found to have significantly higher levels of general and specific ethnocultural empathy than their White counterparts. Racism was negatively associated with ethnocultural empathy.[17]

People with different levels of ethnocultural empathy were also reported to respond distinctively to individuals who are similar with themselves and those who are not. For example, people with higher level of enthnocultural empathy had been found to work more successfully with individuals from other cultures.[18]

Enthnocultural empathy not only functioned in [of enthocultural empathy were reported to be predictive of positive attitude towards minority groups, such as rape victims,[19] domestic violence victims,[20] female leaders,[21] etc.

Enthnocultural cultural empathy has been used in many other research areas such as racialism, feminism, multiculturalism, ethnic identity, etc.

See also[edit]

Empathy

Sympathy

Ethnicity

Multiculturalism

References[edit]

  1. ^ Rasoal, C., Jungert, T., Hau, S., Stiwne, E. e., & Andersson, G. (2009). Ethnocultural empathy among students in health care education. Evaluation & Health Professions 32(3), 300-313.
  2. ^ Gladstein, G. A. (1977). Empathy and counseling outcome: An empirical and conceptual review. The Counseling Psychologist, 6(4), 70-79.
  3. ^ Mangione, S., Kane,Sh't G. C., Caruso, J. W., Gonnella, J. S., Nasca, T. J., & Hojat, M, (2002). Assessment of empathy in different years of internal medicine training. Medical Teacher, 24, 370-373.
  4. ^ Unger, L. S., & Thunuluri, L. K., (1997). Trait empathy and continuous helping: The case of voluntarism. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 12, 785-800.
  5. ^ Quintana, S. M. (1994). A model of ethnic perspective-taking ability applied to Mexican-American children and youth. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 18, 419-448.
  6. ^ DeAngelis, T. (2001). All you need is contact. Monitor on Psychology, 32(10), 61.
  7. ^ Quintana, S. M., Castaneda-English, P., & Ybarra, V. C. (1999). Role of perspective-taking abilities and ethnic socialization in development of adolescent ethnic identity. Journal of Research on Adolescence,, 9, 161-184.
  8. ^ Quintana, S. M., Castaneda-English, P., & Ybarra, V. C. (1999). Role of perspective-taking abilities and ethnic socialization in development of adolescent ethnic identity. Journal of Research on Adolescence,, 9, 161-184.
  9. ^ Ridley, C. R., & Lingle, D. W. (1996). Cultural empathy in multicultural counseling: A multidimensional process model. In P. B. P. J. G. Draguns (Ed.), Counseling across cultures (4th ed., pp. 21–46). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  10. ^ Wang, Y. W., Davidson, M. M., Yakushko, O. F., Savoy, H. B., Tan, J. A., & Bleier, J. K. (2003). The Scale of Ethnocultural Empathy: Development, validation, and reliability. Journal of Consulting Psychology, 50(2), 221-234.
  11. ^ Ridley, C. R., & Lingle, D. W. (1996). Cultural empathy in multicultural counseling: A multidimensional process model. In P. B. P. J. G. Draguns (Ed.), Counseling across cultures (4th ed., pp. 21–46). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  12. ^ Junn, E. N., Morton, K. R., & Yee, I. (1995). The “Gibberish” exercise: Facilitating empathetic multicultural awareness. Journal of Instructional Psychology, 22, 324-329.
  13. ^ Quintana, S. M., Ybarra, V. C., Gonzalez-Doupe, P., & Baessa, Y. D. (2000). Cross-cultural evaluation of ethnic perspective-taking ability: An exploratory investigation with U.S. Latino and Guatemalan Latino Children. Cultural Diversity & Ethnic Minority Psychology, 6, 334-351.
  14. ^ Wang, Y. W., Davidson, M. M., Yakushko, O. F., Savoy, H. B., Tan, J. A., & Bleier, J. K. (2003). The Scale of Ethnocultural Empathy: Development, validation, and reliability. Journal of Consulting Psychology, 50(2), 221-234.
  15. ^ Cundiff, N. L., & Komarraju, M. (2008). Gender differences in ethnocultural empathy and attitudes toward men and women in authority. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 15(1), 5-15.
  16. ^ Wang, Y. W., Davidson, M. M., Yakushko, O. F., Savoy, H. B., Tan, J. A., & Bleier, J. K. (2003). The Scale of Ethnocultural Empathy: Development, validation, and reliability. Journal of Consulting Psychology, 50(2), 221-234.
  17. ^ Spanierman, L. B., Poteat, V. P., Beer, A. M., & Armstrong, P. I. (2006). Psychosocial costs of racism to Whites: Exploring patterns through cluster analysis. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 53, 434-441.
  18. ^ Van der Zee, K. I., & Van Oudenhoven, J. P. (2000). The multicultural personality questionnaire: A multidimensional instrument of multicultural effectiveness. European Journal of Personality, 14, 291-309.
  19. ^ Sakalh-Ugurlu, N., Yalcin, Z. S., & Glick, P. (2007). Ambivalent sexism, belief in a just world, and empathy as predictors of Turkish students’ attitude toward rape victims. Sex Roles, 57, 889-895.
  20. ^ Jones, C. D. (2005). Domestic violence perceptions: Is diversity really a factor? Doctoral dissertations, Tennessee State University, Nashville. Retrieved from
  21. ^ Cundiff, N. L., & Komarraju, M. (2008). Gender differences in ethnocultural empathy and attitudes toward men and women in authority. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 15(1), 5-15.