1932

Abstract

When individuals experience empathy they often seek to bolster others’ well-being. But what do empathizers want others to feel? Though psychologists have studied empathy and prosociality for decades, this question has yet to be clearly addressed. This is because virtually all existing research focuses on cases in which improving others’ well-being also comprises heightening their positive affect or decreasing their negative affect and helping them reach their own emotional goals. In this review, I argue that real-life empathic goals encompass a broader range—including sometimes worsening targets’ affect or contravening their wishes in order to improve their well-being—that can be productively integrated into the framework of interpersonal emotion regulation (IER). I review the empathic IER spectrum in a number of contexts, including close relationships, professional caregiving, and group-based emotions. Integrating empathy and IER provides a synthetic and generative way to ask new questions about how social emotions produce prosocial actions.

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2020-01-04
2024-04-22
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