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).
About the author
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. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
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