Lots of people might argue otherwise, but empathy is not an intuitive process. Intuition is defined as the ability to perceive the truth, independent of any reasoning. Note that the key phrase is “independent of any reasoning.” Empathy, the ability to understand and share the feelings of another, relies on listening and observation and being able to process the information gathered with rational thought, which is also known as systematic thinking.
And here’s the science to support it: Christine Ma-Kellams (from the University of La Verne) and Jennifer Lerner (from Harvard) recently published a paper in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, titled “Trust Your Gut or Think Carefully? Examining Whether an Intuitive, Versus a Systematic, Mode of Thought Produces Greater Empathic Accuracy.” For this study, they compared two modes of thought: intuitive thinking (going with your gut, what feels right) and systematic thinking (carefully analyzing the information available).
The psychologists performed four studies with 900 participants. The first study showed that most people believe that intuition is superior to systematic thinking to deduce another person’s thoughts and feelings accurately. But their following three studies demonstrated that this belief is, in fact, […]