A Really Strange Way To Make People Feel More Empathy

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Make others empathise more with this really strange method.

Having people touch rough sandpaper makes them more empathetic, a new study finds.

Being in a small amount of discomfort helps people empathise with others in pain.

Other ways of putting people in a small amount of discomfort may also work in a similar way.

The study was looking at ways to increase donations to charity.

Dr Chen Wang, the study’s first author, said:

“We found that when people were experiencing mild discomfort as a result of touching a rough surface, they were more aware of discomfort in their immediate environment.

They could better empathize with individuals who were suffering.”

Dr Wang said:

“Often smaller charities invest a lot of money in advertising to build awareness, but our data suggests that introducing haptic roughness into outreach materials could be an innovative and cost-effective approach.”

The study was published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology (Wang et al., 2016).

Hug image from Shutterstock

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Published: 26 March 2016

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Images: Creative Commons License