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Enhancing empathy and compassion

ASG 2021

Relationships between individuals are what holds our civilisation together. The quality of these relationships is dependent on our capacity to see things from others' perspectives and to interact from a place of empathy and compassion. Such capacities are also essential for vocations and institutions that are fundamental to modern society, but training them is difficult.

In healthcare settings, empathetic reception improves treatment outcomes for individual patients and increases the well-being of healthcare personnel whilst also decreasing their risk of burnout. Empathy for the “other” is also a prerequisite for equity in treatment, not only in healthcare and medical situations, but also in a broad range of professional and social settings. Individuals, professionals and society at large would thus benefit from strengthening empathy and compassion in a systematic, effective and reliable fashion.

This has however proven to be a significant challenge; beyond their everyday use, the terms empathy, compassion and empathetic reception represent highly complex capacities.

About the ASG

This ASG is driven by the conviction that an interdisciplinary approach can result in new, composite tools that provide the variety needed to match that complexity. Although complexity is frequently cited as a challenge that is difficult to manage, we believe that it also represents unexplored potential for a new, multi- and interdisciplinary approach to training empathy, compassion and empathetic reception.

Drawing on expertise from a range of scientific disciplines in the humanities, social sciences, medicine and medical education, we intend to work in an interdisciplinary fashion to demonstrate how different and fundamental capacities interact in the construction of empathy, compassion and empathetic reception – everything from simple, motoric or sensory capacities to highly integrated capacities that require personal, interpersonal and social refinement.