Empathy Revisited

by Fred Massarik, Irving Weschler



This article focuses on the role of social perception in people's lives. Forming impressions of people is a part of our daily experience, yet one rarely single out the process for explicit consideration. Social perception is the means by which people form impressions of and, hopefully, understand one another. Empathy, or social sensitivity, is the extent to which they succeed in developing accurate impressions, or actual understanding of others. Social perception is not always rational or conscious: thus it follows that empathy is not necessarily the result of conscious, rational effort. Three basic aspects of social perception are, the perceiver, the person who is "looking" and: attempting to understand: second, the perceived, the person who is being "looked at" or understood: and third, the situation, the total setting of social and nonsocial forces within which the act of social perception is lodged. Understanding social groupings rather than individuals involves unique problems and may require different skills of perception from those needed in understanding individuals.

California Management Review

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