Creative empathy: Can it be a new definition to how we experience our emotions? A Brief Introduction.
Simon Baron Cohen, who is the director of Autism Research Centre at Cambridge University, mentioned two kinds of empathy: Cognitive and affective empathy. “Cognitive empathy is the ability to imagine somebody else’s thoughts and feelings. Affective empathy is the drive to respond with and appropriate emotion to somebody else’s thoughts and feelings” (1).
These two kinds of empathetic thoughts and feelings occurred after encountering the similar events. For instance, when a person owns a pet, he or she will empathize the other animals strongly. We can see the same situation for parents. After becoming parents, they will develop empathy for other children.
I think these empathetic thoughts and feelings do not need a certain intelligence. These behaviors rather develop instinctively. Moreover, we see examples of this in wildlife, with dogs feeding kittens along with puppies. Therefore, these examples of empathy can be thought as imitative.
Whereas the mankind has an improved cognition that we call intelligence, and they can empathize with the new situations that they have not experienced before. For instance; Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who is the founder of modern Turkey, empathized with Turkish women who did not seek for democratic rights. He gave the right to vote and to be elected in 1934 before many European countries. This historical moment sets an important example to creative empathy.
Creative empathy requires intelligence and revolutionary behavior. It can enhance persons as well as societies.
- P. Rueda, P. Fernández-Berrocal & S. Baron-Cohen (2015) Dissociation between cognitive and affective empathy in youth with Asperger Syndrome, European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 12:1, 85-98,
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