The more empathetic we are, the more likely it is that we will keep our distance and use face masks to prevent coronavirus spreading. This knowledge can help save lives, according to the researchers behind a new study from Aarhus BSS at Aarhus University.
Empathy for vulnerable people in risk groups motivates us to use face masks and keep our distance, so that we help to prevent the spread of COVID-19, according to the study, which has just been published in the journal Psychological Science.
“We show that empathy for the most vulnerable is an important factor, and that it can be used actively to combat the pandemic. I believe that policy makers can use our new knowledge in their efforts to get more people to follow the guidelines – and ultimately save lives,” says Stefan Pfattheicher, an associate professor at the Department of Psychology and Behavioural Sciences at Aarhus BSS, Aarhus University.
He is heading the study in which researchers have initially tested the relationship between participants’ empathy and their attitude to social distancing. They tested this in two questionnaire-based studies in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany. For example, on a scale from 1 to 5, participants were asked how concerned they are about those who are most vulnerable to the coronavirus. Subsequently, they were asked about the extent to which they themselves avoid social contact due to the coronavirus. The relationship is clear. The higher the degree of empathy, the greater the focus on reducing social contact.
Equally importantly, the study shows that it is possible to induce empathy among people, and thereby also make more people willing to keep social distance and wear face masks.
Real people induce empathy
In two experiments, the researchers tested the differences in participants’ willingness to follow the two recommendations, depending on whether they are just informed about the effect of the two initiatives, or whether they are also presented with a vulnerable person. In the two experiments, the participants were presented with people who, each in their own way, have been affected by and suffer from the coronavirus. There were also control groups who only received information about the effect of keeping social distance and wearing face masks. And the conclusion is clear: The participants who received the story about people suffering from the coronavirus reported a higher degree of empathy. And also a greater willingness to physically distance and use face masks.
“Our results suggest that we need stories of real people suffering. It’s not enough just to tell us that we must keep a distance and wear a face mask for the sake of vulnerable citizens in general. If we’re confronted with a specific person who is vulnerable to COVID-19, it is clear that empathy is strengthened, and that we are more likely to follow the guidelines,” says Stefan Pfattheicher.
“Our clear recommendation is that policy makers incorporate this knowledge using empathy in their communication initiatives,” says Michael Bang Petersen, a professor at the Department of Political Science, and co-author of the scientific article.
The Latest Updates from Bing News & Google News
Go deeper with Bing News on:
- Empathy and Suspicion: Lance Oppenheim and Daniel Garber on "Some Kind of Heaven"on January 15, 2021 at 12:11 am
Lance Oppenheim’s debut feature, Some Kind of Heaven, follows a small group of residents in Central Florida’s The Villages, America’s largest—and most notorious—retirement community. Following several ...
- Biden refocuses on COVID-19 relief after Trump impeachmenton January 14, 2021 at 10:22 pm
President-elect Joe Biden stuck to his policy agenda rather than get distracted by impeachment politics through his unveiling of a $1.9 trillion coronavirus economic stimulus proposal on Thursday.
- Lessons from Dante in a time of COVID-19on January 14, 2021 at 5:14 pm
We can’t just sit there all day.” In such a time of longing for connection, and taking stock of the way human beings have been treating each other during the pandemic, for better and worse, the ...
- COVID-19 Should Change The Way You Think About Marketing, says Jesse Willmson January 14, 2021 at 12:20 pm
It’s safe to say that Covid-19 has been an economic and medical disaster since the outbreak began back in December 2019. Get some tips from entrepreneur Jesse Willms about how you need to change the w ...
- Ask the Doctors: Long-haul COVID-19 similar to post-polio syndromeon January 14, 2021 at 9:30 am
Dear Doctor: Your column about long-haul COVID-19 started a conversation at our house about why some viruses will keep getting you sick even after you've recovered. A friend of our ...
Go deeper with Google Headlines on:
Go deeper with Bing News on:
Real people induce empathy
- A New Genre: Empathy, Sound, and Creation Amid the Pandemicon January 13, 2021 at 1:36 pm
In many ways, this “new genre” spurred on by the coronavirus — a sort of “pandemic pop” rooted in themes of isolation and uncertainty — is not so much a genre in the traditional sense that it has a ...
- Muslim women’s voices in ‘Unveiled’ serve up tea and empathyon January 13, 2021 at 6:00 am
Hot tea is the recommended beverage for viewing Chicago-based playwright Rohnia Malik’s Unveiled, available online through January 2021 from Baltimore Theatre Project. The one-woman show introduces us ...
- Talking With People In Your Life Hesitant About The Coronavirus Vaccineon January 12, 2021 at 12:00 am
Many Americans remain unsure about whether to get the coronavirus vaccine. If you're talking to people in your life about getting it, make sure to lead with empathy and acknowledge what you don't know ...
- Military veteran on making business decisions with financial expertise and empathyon January 11, 2021 at 12:00 am
Eric Hamilton, Portland State University Master of Science in Finance candidate and MBA alum, shares his experience serving in the military, pivoting careers and developing as a leader.
- 'Welcome to Chechnya' Director on Doc's Impact: "It's Engendering a Real Wave of Empathy for LGBTQ Russians"on January 9, 2021 at 8:36 am
Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov immediately repudiated the claims (he maintains that there are no LGBTQ individuals in Chechnya), but the documentary evidence of abuse is impossible to deny. In response ...