Assessing Empathy

Elizabeth A. Segal, Karen E. Gerdes, Cynthia A. Lietz, M. Alex Wagaman, and Jennifer M. Geiger

Columbia University Press

Assessing Empathy

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Pub Date: February 2017

ISBN: 9780231181914

192 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $30.00£25.00

Pub Date: February 2017

ISBN: 9780231181907

192 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $90.00£75.00

Pub Date: February 2017

ISBN: 9780231543880

192 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $29.99£25.00

Assessing Empathy

Elizabeth A. Segal, Karen E. Gerdes, Cynthia A. Lietz, M. Alex Wagaman, and Jennifer M. Geiger

Columbia University Press

Empathy is a widely used term, but it is also difficult to define. In recent years, the field of cognitive neuroscience has made impressive strides in identifying neural networks in the brain related to or triggered by empathy. Still, what exactly do we mean when we say that someone has—or lacks—empathy? How is empathy distinguished from sympathy or pity? And is society truly suffering from an "empathy deficit," as some experts have charged??

In Assessing Empathy, Elizabeth A. Segal and colleagues marshal years of research to present a comprehensive definition of empathy, one that links neuroscientific evidence to human service practice. The book begins with a discussion of our current understanding of empathy in neurological, biological, and behavioral terms. The authors explain why empathy is important on both the individual and societal levels. They then introduce the concepts of interpersonal empathy and social empathy, and how these processes can interrelate or operate separately. Finally, they examine the weaknesses of extant empathy assessments before introducing three new, validated measures: the Empathy Assessment Index, the Social Empathy Index, and the Interpersonal and Social Empathy Index.

A thorough review of what we presently know about empathy and its importance in human life, culminating in an illuminating study.

Frans de Waal, author of Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?

Segal and her coauthors have carefully and thoroughly deconstructed the elements of empathy examined by neuroscientific research in order to construct an innovative theory of social empathy. They make a significant contribution to the development of the social work profession, and this timely book will be relevant to a large audience beyond social work and other helping professions.

Sarah Garlington, Ohio University

I found this book to be deeply engaging and an urgent contemporary revisiting of a concept that is fundamental to interpersonal communication and therapeutic relationships. The authors brilliantly integrate transdisciplinary knowledge and perspectives from physiology, psychology, and the neurosciences to enhance the reader's understanding of "empathy."

Paula Allen-Meares, chancellor emerita, University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago

Assessing Empathy will be an invaluable multidisciplinary resource for students and scholars alike. It not only offers a comprehensive review of the concept of empathy, but also summarizes important research findings from human neuroscience, developmental psychology, social work, ethology, and other social science disciplines that bear on our understanding of how empathy is acquired, and the critical functions it serves in both social and interpersonal contexts.

Jerrold R. Brandell, Distinguished Professor and Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs, Wayne State University School of Social Work

How do we enhance people's capacity to care about others? This volume beautifully integrates the current state of knowledge regarding empathy from neurobiological, psychological, bio-social and social justice perspectives, and offers both the rationale and the tools to begin answering that important question.

Jacky Thomas, California State University San Marcos
1. What Is Empathy?
2. The Building Blocks of Empathy
3. Why Is Empathy Important?
4. Why Is Empathy So Difficult to Achieve?
5. Linking Interpersonal and Social Empathy
6. Tools for Measuring and Assessing Empathy
Appendix A. Research and Statistical Analysis of the Relationship Between Interpersonal Empathy and Social Empathy
Appendix B. Empathy Assessment Index
Appendix C. Social Empathy Index
Appendix D. Interpersonal and Social Empathy Index
Appendix E. Spanish Translation of the Empathy Assessment Index, the Social Empathy Index, and the Interpersonal and Social Empathy Index, by David Becerra and María del Rosario Silva Arciniega
References
Index

About the Author

Elizabeth A. Segal is a professor in the School of Social Work at Arizona State University. She is the author of Social Welfare Policy and Social Programs: A Values Perspective, fourth edition (2016) and a co-author of An Introduction to the Profession of Social Work: Becoming a Change Agent, fifth edition (2016).

Karen E. Gerdes is professor emerita in the School of Social Work at Arizona State University. She is also a co-author of An Introduction to the Profession of Social Work: Becoming a Change Agent, fifth edition (2016).

Cynthia A. Lietz is senior associate dean of the College of Public Service and Community Solutions and professor at the School of Social Work at Arizona State University. She is the co-author of Applying Theory to Generalist Social Work Practice (2015).

M. Alex Wagaman is assistant professor at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Social Work and co-author of Practice Behaviors Workbook for Social Welfare Policy and Social Programs: A Values Perspective, third edition (2012).

Jennifer M. Geiger is an assistant professor at the Jane Addams College of Social Work, University of Illinois at Chicago.