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Experiences of ‘empathy’

Meneses, Rita Wengorovius Ferro (2011)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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The meaning and experience of ‘empathy’ was investigated for this thesis. A mixed approach was utilized, with a strong qualitative accent. There was evidence of an ‘intuitive’ social understanding which appears to be theoretically and experientially distinct from the two prevailing models of empathic understandings (intellectual, or explicit simulation theories; and sympathetic, or implicit simulation theories). Phenomenological views on intersubjectivity were the principal interpretative framework.
The first Chapter reviews two main theoretical meanings of empathy: empathy-as-knowing, or understanding someone’s experience (empathy), and empathy-as-responding to someone’s experience (sympathy).
The second Chapter describes the study of the folk psychology stories and definitions of ‘empathy’; and their resemblance to the various theoretical meanings.
The third Chapter summarizes Edith Stein’s phenomenological views about empathy-as-knowing; and compares these views with more contemporary approaches.
The fourth Chapter describes the study of the essential qualities of the experiences of ‘insight into’ the experiences of another (resonance), alongside experiences of feeling understood by another (reception). Social understandings happened by thinking, listening, perceiving and experiencing.
The fifth Chapter describes the study where pairs of participants were invited to share their stories of a prior happy experience with each other, and then to scrutinize their recent interpersonal understandings during joint ‘cued-recall’ interviews. There were intuitive, sympathetic and imaginative social understandings.
The sixth Chapter is an overview of the overall findings associated with sympathetic, intellectual, and intuitive understandings.

Type of Work:Ph.D. thesis.
Supervisor(s):Larkin, Michael (1971-)
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Life & Environmental Sciences
Department:School of Psychology
Subjects:BF Psychology
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:2892
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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