Published online by Cambridge University Press: 11 March 2021
Chapter 4 explores the origins of group empathy. We investigate the association of group empathy with key socio-demographic factors and the ensuing life experiences. Specifically, we find that minorities, females, the educated, and older generations display higher levels of group empathy. The life experiences that spring from these socio-demographic contexts – particularly, exposure to discrimination, the quality and quantity of contact with other groups, and perceptions of intergroup economic competition – also predict group empathy and help explain socio-demographic differences on group empathy levels. The chapter also empirically tests predictions about the link between ingroup identification and outgroup empathy among whites, blacks, and Latinos. Social Identity Theory would predict ingroup attachment to be negatively linked to outgroup empathy across all groups. However, Group Empathy Theory predicts outgroup empathy should be positively linked with ingroup identity among nonwhites. This is exactly what we find. This finding challenges one of the basic assumptions of SIT given that the underlying mechanism of ingroup–outgroup bias is different for whites than it is for minorities.