Empathy in online communities
Empathy has been studied in the context of online communities as it pertains to enablers of interpersonal communication, anonymity, as well as barriers to online relationships, such as ambiguity, cyberbullying and Internet trolling. It has been found that on online health support communities members tend to exhibit higher levels of empathic concern.
Comparison/contrast with empathy in offline environments
A number of studies have explored the importance of empathy in offline settings. For example, one study found that mindfulness and acceptance-based behavioral approaches may have potential for increasing empathy in interpersonal relationships. Other work has explored the link between fiction and empathy, suggesting that the experience-taking quality of fiction may increase empathy among readers. There is also evidence that individuals tend to more readily feel empathy for those that they view as similar to themselves.
In online contexts, several researchers have pointed out that there are some key differences in how users interact online that may affect levels of empathy. For example, communication in online forum communities interact asynchronously, and are generally text-based rather than verbal communications. Establishment of trust in online communities may also operate differently in online environments. Furthermore, communications related interactions with others online might facilitate empathy while video or online gaming might negatively affect empathy.
- Anonymity. The anonymous nature of many online communities can allow individuals to feel more comfortable disclosing more personal information, which in turn can increase feelings of trust, connectedness and empathy.
- Shared interests. Because empathy tends to be strongest among those that share common experiences, the presence of niche online communities can set the stage for higher levels of empathy among members. 
- Cyberbullying is any bullying that takes place using electronic media. Studies have suggested that individuals who are bystanders, that is, witnessing someone bullying someone else, are less likely to intervene in online contexts.
- Internet trolling is "the practice of behaving in a deceptive, destructive, or disruptive manner in a social setting on the Internet with no apparent instrumental purpose." Although empirical research on trolling is limited, studies have suggested that internet trolling may be a space occupied by already-sadistic individuals who can easily disrupt conversations and communities.
- Ambiguity. Because asynchronous, text-mediated online conversations lack the richness of interaction and cues that face-to-face interaction provides, online communication tends to be much more ambiguous. This ambiguity may decrease members' abilities to find similarities in one another. In both online and offline interactions, increased perceived similarity is associated with increased empathy.
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