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Digital empathy finds its roots in empathy, a human behaviour explained by Cognitive and behavioral neuroscientists as, “a multifaceted construct used to account for the capacity to share and understand the thoughts and feelings of others."  The neurological basis for empathy was found in a study that discovered mirror neurons and studied a format for action and perception resulting in imitation that facilitates empathy.
At the centre of empathy creation is communication.  The society’s communication patterns are altering, both positively and negatively, due to the rapid adoption of social and mobile technologies.Technology usage has transformed human interactions into digital conversations where people now have the ability to instantly share thoughts, feelings, and behaviours via digital channels in a few seconds. It has been observed and researched that the digital conversations threaten the appropriate expression of empathy, largely as a result of psychological disinhibition  - a term that broadly explains various underlying reasons that increase the probability of reduced empathy in online communications. Research has shown that the shift away from face-to-face communication has caused a decline in the social-emotional skills of youth and proven that "generations raised on technology" are actually becoming less empathic.  The impact of these altered communications and social behavior is being explored under a new term - digital empathy. Terry & Cain (2015) in their research paper “The Emerging Issue of Digital Empathy” explain digital empathy as the “traditional empathic characteristics such as concern and caring for others expressed through computer-mediated communications.”
The handbook of research on media literacy in the digital age further elaborates on this concept by stating that, “digital empathy explores the ability to analyze and evaluate another’s internal state (empathy accuracy), have a sense of identity and agency (self-empathy), recognize, understand and predict other’s thoughts and emotions (cognitive empathy), feel what others feel (affective empathy), role play (imaginative empathy), and be compassionate to others (empathic concern) via digital media."
- Artificial empathy
- Empathic concern
- Empathic design
- User-centered design
- Artificial intelligence in healthcare
- Data quality
- Computer-mediated communication
- Emotions in virtual communication
- Information and communications technology
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