Does Empathy Among World Leaders Do More Harm Than Good?

Our video team created a short piece on the work of psychologist Paul Bloom:

A reader weighs in:

Interesting proposition. I only agree partially. Empathy has great value in enabling us to connect to and understand other people. Understanding is a good thing (the alternative is insensitivity, even intolerance). I suggest to the author that the problem does not rest with empathy, but rather with the critical analysis, intent, and decisions made by the empath. To lose sight of optimal outcomes, in order to attain selfish, short-sighted gratification, is always a bad idea. Empathy can be very good; poor choices and decisions are bad.

The New York Times’s John Tierney reported yesterday on Dr. Bloom’s research, asking, “Is empathy an essential virtue for a presidential candidate?”

In his current research, Dr. Bloom and a colleague are finding that the more empathic people feel toward victims of terrorism in the Middle East, the more they favor taking military action.