How to create an app to increase empathy?
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- What exercises would you pick for such an app?
- How do you make it "cool enough" to not be a flop like the RAKi app or the Empathy app ?
- Should the app also have some theoretical information on empathy or just practical exercises?
- What is the audience? Or should there be different exercises in the app depending on the age (adult, adolescents, kids)?
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A. Knafo and F. Uzefovsky, “Variation in Empathy: The Interplay of Genetic and Environmental Factors,” in The developing infant mind: Integrating biology and experience, 2012.
T. R. Goldstein and E. Winner, “Enhancing Empathy and Theory of Mind,” J. Cogn. Dev., 2012.
D. Dodell-Feder and D. I. Tamir, “Fiction reading has a small positive impact on social cognition: A meta-analysis,” J. Exp. Psychol. Gen., 2018.
F. Herrera, J. Bailenson, E. Weisz, E. Ogle, and J. Zak, “Building long-term empathy: A large-scale comparison of traditional and virtual reality perspective-taking,” PLoS One, 2018.
M. Wei, K. Y. H. Liao, T. Y. Ku, and P. A. Shaffer, “Attachment, Self-Compassion, Empathy, and Subjective Well-Being Among College Students and Community Adults,” J. Pers., 2011.
F. Gerli, S. Bonesso, and C. Pizzi, “Boundaryless career and career success: The impact of emotional and social competencies,” Front. Psychol., 2015.
The size of our environment matters
Design the app to produce empathy not as a product, but a perk!
- Include compassion meditation As pointed out in this article, it has been found that compassion-based meditation practice can improve a person's ability to read the facial expressions of others, a behavioural trait directly related to empathy. This increase in empathy accuracy was detected using Cognitively-Based Compassion Testing (CBCT) derived from ancient Tibetan Buddhist practices- which is basically scanning the study participant through functional magnetic resonance for their brain activity. Hence, if the app could somehow motivate the users to be involved in compassion-based meditation on a regular basis, maybe it could help them increase empathy.
- Cultivate gratitude Gratitude, the simple act of being thankful, is one of the most important virtues that is often missed out when talking about empathy. Cultivating gratitude can increase empathy and lead to a positive cycle of experiencing gratitude and having empathic responses to other individuals. In another research conducted on the effect of September 11th on children, researchers suggested that a possible coping strategy for children struggling with the negative effects of terrorism, may in fact be to foster empathy toward those who were affected and express gratitude toward helpers .
Worthen, V. E., & Isakson, R. L. (2007). The therapeutic value of experiencing and expressing gratitude. Issues in Religion and Psychotherapy, 31, 33-46.
Gordon, A. K., Musher-Eizenman, D. R., Holub, S. C., & Dalrymple, J. (2004). What are children thankful for? An archival analysis of gratitude before and after the attacks of September 11. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 25, 541-553. doi:10.1016/j.appdev.2004.08.004
Empathy courses, activities, and social media-like posts.
- Writing/reading poetry
- Participating in support groups
- Guessing emotions activity
- Acts of kindness – for example, giving compliments.
Cheang, Rachael, Anna Gillions, and Elizabeth Sparkes. "Do mindfulness-based interventions increase empathy and compassion in children and adolescents: A systematic review." Journal of Child and Family Studies (2019): 1-15.
Schoonover, Kimberly L., et al. "Impact of poetry on empathy and professional burnout of health-care workers: a systematic review." Journal of palliative care 35.2 (2020): 127-132.