Published online by Cambridge University Press: 11 March 2021
Chapter 2 introduces Group Empathy Theory. We define empathy as the ability to take the perspective of others and experience their emotions, combined with the motivation to care about their welfare. Outgroup empathy arises when this combination of skill and motivation is directed toward social collectives with whom one has little in common. We expect intergroup empathy to differ from interpersonal empathy and to more powerfully explain political attitudes and behavior. The theory further predicts racial/ethnic differences in group empathy due to variations in socialization patterns and life experiences (such as discrimination). Chapter 2 also discusses how Group Empathy Theory challenges one of the key tenets of Social Identity Theory (SIT) concerning ingroup favoritism and outgroup discrimination. We argue that minorities who identify more strongly with their ingroup will display higher empathy for outgroups – a prediction counterintuitive to SIT. In short, Chapter 2 lays the groundwork for unique theoretical expectations we then test in the subsequent chapters.