A Really Strange Way To Make People Feel More Empathy

Make others empathise more with this really strange method.

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

Author: Dr Jeremy Dean

Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology. He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004.

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