If you’re writing essays about empathy, check out our essay examples and prompts to get started.
Empathy is the ability to understand and share other people’s emotions. It is the very notion which To Kill a Mockingbird character Atticus Finch was driving at when he advised his daughter Scout to “climb inside [other people’s] skin and walk around in it.”
Being able to feel the joy and sorrow of others and see the world from their perspective are extraordinary human capabilities that shape our social landscape. But beyond its effect on personal and professional relationships, empathy motivates kind actions that can trickle positive change across society.
If you are writing an article about empathy, here are five insightful essay examples to inspire you:
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- 1. Do Art and Literature Cultivate Empathy? by Nick Haslam
- 2. Empathy: Overrated? by Spencer Kornhaber
- 3. In Our Pandemic Era, Why We Must Teach Our Children Compassion by Rebecca Roland
- 4. Why Empathy is a Must-Have Business Strategy by Belinda Parmar
- 5. The Evolution of Empathy by Frans De Waal
- 10 Interesting Writing prompts on Essays About Empathy
1. Do Art and Literature Cultivate Empathy? by Nick Haslam
“Exposure to literature and the sorts of movies that do not involve car chases might nurture our capacity to get inside the skins of other people. Alternatively, people who already have well-developed empathic abilities might simply find the arts more engaging…”
Haslam, a psychology professor, laid down several studies to present his thoughts and analysis on the connection between empathy and art. While one study has shown that literary fiction can help develop empathy, there’s still lacking evidence to show that more exposure to art and literature can help one be more empathetic.
2. Empathy: Overrated? by Spencer Kornhaber
“Empathy doesn’t even necessarily make day-to-day life more pleasant, they contend, citing research that shows a person’s empathy level has little or no correlation with kindness or giving to charity.”
This article takes off from a talk of psychology experts on a crusade against empathy. The experts argue that empathy could be “innumerate, parochial, bigoted” as it zooms one to focus on an individual’s emotions and fail to see the larger picture. This problem with empathy can motivate aggression and wars and, as such, must be replaced with a much more innate trait among humans: compassion.
3. In Our Pandemic Era, Why We Must Teach Our Children Compassion by Rebecca Roland
“Showing empathy can be especially hard for kids… Especially in times of stress and upset, they may retreat to focusing more on themselves — as do we adults.”
Roland encourages fellow parents to teach their kids empathy, especially amid the pandemic, where kindness is needed the most. She advises parents to seize everyday opportunities by ensuring “quality conversations” and reinforcing their kids to view situations through other people’s lenses.
4. Why Empathy is a Must-Have Business Strategy by Belinda Parmar
“Mental health, stress and burnout are now perceived as responsibilities of the organization. The failure to deploy empathy means less innovation, lower engagement and reduced loyalty, as well as diluting your diversity agenda.”
The spike in anxiety disorders and mental health illnesses brought by the COVID-19 pandemic has given organizations a more considerable responsibility: to listen to employees’ needs sincerely. Parmar underscores how crucial it is for a leader to take empathy as a fundamental business strategy and provides tips on how businesses can adjust to the new norm.
5. The Evolution of Empathy by Frans De Waal
“The evolution of empathy runs from shared emotions and intentions between individuals to a greater self/other distinction—that is, an “unblurring” of the lines between individuals.”
The author traces the evolutionary roots of empathy back to our primate heritage — ultimately stemming from the parental instinct common to mammals. Ultimately, the author encourages readers to conquer “tribal differences” and continue turning to their emotions and empathy when making moral decisions.
10 Interesting Writing prompts on Essays About Empathy
Check out below our list of exciting prompts to help you buckle down to your writing:
1. Teaching Empathy In The Classroom.
This essay discuss teaching empathy in the classroom. Is this an essential skill that we should learn in school? Research how schools cultivate children’s innate empathy and compassion. Then, based on these schools’ experiences, provide tips on how other schools can follow suit.
2. How Can Companies Nurture Empathy In The Workplace?
An empathetic leader is said to help boost positive communication with employees, retain indispensable talent and create positive long-term outcomes. This is an interesting topic to research, and there are plenty of studies on this topic online with data that you can use in your essay. So, pick these best practices to promote workplace empathy and discuss their effectiveness.
3. How Can We Develop Empathy?
Write down a list of deeds and activities people can take as their first steps to developing empathy. These activities can range from volunteering in their communities to reaching out to a friend in need simply. Then, explain how each of these acts can foster empathy and kindness.
4. How Do You Know If Someone Is Empathetic?
Based on studies, list the most common traits, preferences, and behaviour of an empathetic person. For example, one study has shown that empathetic people prefer non-violent movies. Expound on this list with the support of existing studies. You can support or challenge these findings in this essay for a compelling argumentative essay. Make sure to conduct your research and cite all the sources used.
5. Does Empathy Spark Helpful Behavior?
Empathy is a buzzword closely associated with being kind and helpful. However, many experts in recent years have been opining that it takes more than empathy to propel an act of kindness and that misplaced empathy can even lead to apathy. Gather what psychologists and emotional experts have been saying on this debate and input your analysis.
6. Empathy vs. Sympathy.
Empathy and sympathy have been used synonymously, even as these words differ in meaning. Enlighten your readers on the differences and provide situations that clearly show the contrast between empathy and sympathy. You may also add your take on which trait is better to cultivate.
7. Empathy As A Winning Strategy In Sports.
Empathy has been deemed vital in building cooperation. A member who empathizes with the team can be better in tune with the team’s goals, cooperate effectively and help drive success. You may research how athletic teams foster a culture of empathy beyond the sports fields. Write about how coaches are integrating empathy into their coaching strategy.
8. Is There A Decline In Human Empathy?
Several studies have warned that empathy has been on a downward trend over the years. Dive deep into studies that investigate this decline. Summarize each and find common points. Then, cite the significant causes and recommendations in this study. You can also provide insights on whether this should cause alarm and how societies should address the problem.
9. Is Digital Media Affecting Human Empathy?
There is a broad sentiment that social media has been driving people to live in a bubble and be less empathetic — more narcissistic. However, some point out that intensifying competition and increasing economic pressures are more to blame for reducing our empathetic feelings. Research and write about what experts have to say and provide a personal touch by adding your experience.
10. Your Personal Story Of Empathy.
Acts of kindness abound every day. But sometimes, we fail to capture or take them for granted. Write about your unforgettable encounters with empathetic people. Then, create a storytelling essay to convey your personal view on empathy. This activity can help you appreciate better the little good things in life.
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