No, Empathy Isn’t a Universal Value

From Saudi Arabia to Peru, There’s No Clear Pattern to How Compassion Works

Empathy varies a lot among people, psychological research has found. But it also varies widely among countries and cultures. When my colleagues and I set out to analyze the largest study on empathy ever done—104,365 people from 63 countries—we expected to learn whether the extent to which we tune into others’ emotional cues clearly differs by culture. Instead, we were left with a number of new questions about what we mean—here and in other countries—when we talk about empathy.

I orginally got involved in studying empathy because I was raised …

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A Mass Murderer Is Testing the Limits of Scandinavian Goodwill

Norway’s Most Dangerous Man Is Back in the Spotlight, Leading Many to Wonder How Much Compassion He Deserves

For four days in March, I watched Norway’s national devil return to public view, in another installment of the courtroom drama familiarly titled Breivik v. State. Andres Behring Breivik, now …

When We Die, Who Is Kind?

Good End-Of-Life Planning Is Crucial, But Just As Crucial Is Compassion

I am writing this piece as a middle-aged woman who recently lost her younger brother. We were “Catholic twins,” born 18 months apart in Kansas City. As kids, we fought. …