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The Shadow Side of Empathy

Empathy, or the ability to identify with or to interpret the world through the feelings and perspectives of another person, figures as a highly desirable skill for intercultural competence or effectiveness -- and rightly so if the goal is to bridge cultural differences. Yet Paul Bloom's The Case Against Empathy (2016) and Fritz Breithaupt's The Dark Sides of Empathy (2019) suggest that empathy is not an end unto itself. In fact, it is also used as an intentional or unintentional tool for exploitation and reinforcing power differences. The activities and articles in this collection include an exploration of the shadow side of empathy -- something that can help intercultural learners grasp the complexity of intercultural relations and consider their own values and motivations for developing and using empathy.  

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Nikki Leigh Mattson onto Empathy