is a social affinity in which one person stands with another person, closely understanding
Understanding is a psychological process related to an abstract or physical object, such as a person, situation, or message whereby one is able to think about it and use concepts to deal adequately with that object....
his or her feelings. Also known as empathic concern
Empathic concern refers to other-oriented emotions elicited by and congruent with the perceived welfare of someone in need. These other-oriented emotions include feelings of tenderness, sympathy, compassion, soft-heartedness, and the like...
, it is the feeling of compassion
Compassion is a virtue — one in which the emotional capacities of empathy and sympathy are regarded as a part of love itself, and a cornerstone of greater social interconnection and humanism — foundational to the highest principles in philosophy, society, and personhood.There is an aspect of...
or concern for another, the wish to see them better off or happier. Although empathy
Empathy is the capacity to recognize and, to some extent, share feelings that are being experienced by another sapient or semi-sapient being. Someone may need to have a certain amount of empathy before they are able to feel compassion. The English word was coined in 1909 by E.B...
and sympathy are often used interchangeably, a subtle variation in ordinary usage can be detected. To empathize is to respond to another's perceived emotional state by experiencing feelings of a similar sort. Sympathy not only includes empathizing, but also entails having a positive regard or a non-fleeting concern for the other person.
In common usage, sympathy is usually making known one's understanding of another's unhappiness or suffering
Suffering, or pain in a broad sense, is an individual's basic affective experience of unpleasantness and aversion associated with harm or threat of harm. Suffering may be qualified as physical or mental. It may come in all degrees of intensity, from mild to intolerable. Factors of duration and...
, especially when it is grief
Grief is a multi-faceted response to loss, particularly to the loss of someone or something to which a bond was formed. Although conventionally focused on the emotional response to loss, it also has physical, cognitive, behavioral, social, and philosophical dimensions...
. Sympathy can also refer to being aware of other (positive
Positive Affect reflects the extent to which a person feels enthusiastic, active, and alert. High PA is a state of high energy, full concentration, and pleasurable engagement, whereas low PA is characterized by sadness, lethargy, distress, and un-pleasurable engagement.Watson and Clark 12 defined...
) emotions as well. In a broader sense, it can refer to the sharing of political or ideological
An ideology is a set of ideas that constitutes one's goals, expectations, and actions. An ideology can be thought of as a comprehensive vision, as a way of looking at things , as in common sense and several philosophical tendencies , or a set of ideas proposed by the dominant class of a society to...
sentiments, such as in the phrase "a communist
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...
sympathizer". The word derives from the Greek
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...
), from σύν
) "together" and πάθος
Pathos represents an appeal to the audience's emotions. Pathos is a communication technique used most often in rhetoric , and in literature, film and other narrative art....
) "passion", in this case "suffering" (from πάσχω
, "to be affected by, to suffer").
- Decety, J. and Ickes, W. (Eds.) (2009). The Social Neuroscience of Empathy. Cambridge: MIT Press, Cambridge.
- Decety, J. and Batson, C.D. (Eds.) (2007). Interpersonal Sensitivity: Entering Others' Worlds. Hove: Psychology Press.
- Eisenberg, N., & Strayer, J. (1987). Empathy and its Development. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Lamm, C., Batson, C.D., & Decety, J. (2007). The neural substrate of human empathy: effects of perspective-taking and cognitive appraisal. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 19, 42-58.