8 Things You Should Know about Empathy-Building

Empathy can sometimes sound too vague to discuss or practice, even though scientists have conducted studies to find the link between empathy-building, neurosciences (which explore how the human brain and its synapses work), and violent behaviors. However, their findings can sometimes be too rigid and unattractive for some. Thus in the following several articles, we will explore this link by relating it to our daily lives.

Understanding how the nervous system generates empathy is an exciting thing to learn about. In contemporary cognitive neuroscience, empathy is most often represented as a function of higher brain structures, including the cortex (which plays a role in memory, attention, perception, thought, language, and awareness) (Decety & Jackson, 2004; Lamm, Batson, & Decety, 2007). However, some fundamental physiological substrates required for expressing empathy are shared with the more general aspects of sensitivity, friendliness, and reproduction, which depend on structures of the lower brain and autonomic nervous system. Therefore, the level of empathy for each individual depends on nerve stimulants coming from the formation of each individual, then is manifested by nerves in the form of empathetic behavior.

In addition, we can view the empathetic approach in neurosciences from the perspective of a theory of mind. It has to do with how people think about specific issues and respond to them, all of which take the view of others. Therefore we have provided eight questions you can ask yourself when considering using empathy building (Batson, 2009):

  1. Do you know other people’s insides, including their minds and feelings? 
  2. How can you adopt or match the posture or neural responses of others? 
  3. Can you feel what others feel?
  4. What can you do to be more intuitive or how to project yourself in others’ situations? 
  5. Can you imagine what others think and feel? 
  6. Can you imagine what others think and feel about somebody else’s place? 
  7. Do you feel distressed or pressured after seeingother people’s suffering? 
  8. Can you feel the suffering of others? 

Once you answer these questions, they can be used as a starting point to formulate intervention in countering violent extremism (CVE). However, there is also a particular limitation in using empathy-building. Remarkably, too much empathy can also enable a party to realize how hateful, hostile, or uncompromising an adversary is and to what degree they demonize threats to their sacred values, generating disillusionment about the possibilities for peace (Waldman, 2016). 


  • Decety & Jackson, 2004; Lamm, Batson, & Decety, 2007 in Carter, C. Sue., Harris, James., & Porges, Stephen W. (2009). These Things Called Empathy: Neural and Evolutionary Perspectives on Empathy. Decety, Jean., & Ickes, William (Ed.). London: The MIT Press.
  • Batson, C Daniel. (2009). These Things Called Empathy: Eight Related but Distinct Phenomena in The Social Neuroscience of Empathy. Decety, Jean., & Ickes, William (Ed.). London: The MIT Press.
  • Waldman, Matt. (2016). Empathy in Conflict Resolution: If, How and When.