Research Proposal

In this class, we have basically reached a consensus on empathy: How it works? Does it necessarily a beneficial thing for us? What type of empathy, pseudo-empathy or other-oriented empathy, could lead to the real understanding and benign environment both on internet and on reality? However, there is one aspect of empathy that seems to be rarely touched throughout the class: the development of empathy from people’s childhood and adulthood. The third blog post of formal assignment 2 gives me a hint. After reading Harper Lee’s “Go Set a Watchman”, it is clear that only virtual that drives Jean Louis to ease her tense relationship with Atticus and struggle to identify with the town that she grows up is the real empathy. More than that, the kind of other-oriented empathy, is not innate with her. She does not possess that virtue, not until her conversation with her Uncle Jack and intensely reflect both on her experience both in her childhood and in New York. Hence, other-oriented empathy, though might not be an innate ability of all of us, I believe that the other-oriented empathy is the special ability that can be trained and is the symbol of maturity.


Under this circumstance, I decide to conduct research to understand how empathy develop in people from their childhood to adulthood? To narrow it down, from the works that I did on the formal2 I know that other-oriented empathy is the real empathy that would be more beneficial to our real life. Therefore, the central question might be how does the other-oriented empathy develops in specific stages of childhood. In order to response to that critical question, I have to, first and foremost, understand how empathy works in different stage of childhood: infanthood and adolescence. By comparing the difference of empathy at two stages of childhood, it would be clear that how the empathy is shaped while a person is approaching to maturity. More than that, it is also of importance to identify the factors that would boost or jeopardize the development of the other-oriented empathy. I would like to link the research proposal with the hot issue: the empathy in digital age. In my perspective, with the unprecedented boom of internet and social media, teenagers’ capability of truly empathizing with other’s with other-oriented empathy is highly compromised. Besides, there is a really interesting point: decades ago, 90 percent of Media Market in United States was controlled by 90 companies.  However, toady, just 6. Finally, I want to discuss whether the overtly development of empathy is a good thing. According to Morton, the ability of empathy with the conductor of atrocious acts takes tons of imagination and experience, which might cause intense emotional distress. When viewed from another angel, does that kind of emotional distress originated from the imagination and experience necessarily a beneficial factor for teenagers’ mental development? According to Smith’s “The “Cost of Caring” in Youths’ Friendships: Considering Associations Among Social Perspective-Taking, Co-Rumination, and Empathetic Distress”, she found that people who are emotionally intelligent are most likely to feel overwhelmed in their effort to care for a friend. Thus, the excessively development of empathy in teenage is “too much of a good thing”.

Potential Reference:

Smith, RL, and AJ Rose. “The “Cost of Caring” in Youths’ Friendships: Considering Associations among Social Perspective Taking, Co-Rumination, and Empathetic Distress.” DEVELOPMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY, vol. 47, no. 6, 2011., pp. 1792-1803doi:10.1037/a0025309.

Pasalich, DS, MR Dadds, and DJ Hawes. “Cognitive and Affective Empathy in Children with Conduct Problems: Additive and Interactive Effects of Callous-Unemotional Traits and Autism Spectrum Disorders Symptoms.” PSYCHIATRY RESEARCH, vol. 219, no. 3, 2014., pp. 625-630doi:10.1016/j.psychres.2014.06.025.

Terry, Christopher, and Jeff Cain. “The Emerging Issue of Digital Empathy.” American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, vol. 80, no. 4, 2016., pp. 1.

Terry, Christopher, and Jeff Cain. “The Emerging Issue of Digital Empathy.” American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, vol. 80, no. 4, 2016., pp. 1.

O’Keeffe, GS, K. Clarke-Pearson, and Council Commun & Media. “Clinical Report-the Impact of Social Media on Children, Adolescents, and Families.” PEDIATRICS, vol. 127, no. 4, 2011., pp. 800-804doi:10.1542/peds.2011-0054.

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