Empathy Gap

For instance, suppose I offered to pay you money to visit my lab next week and perform a painful task--say, immersing your hand in ice cold water. How much would you charge for this little sacrifice?

That’s the question that psychologists David Read and George Loewenstein (1989) posed to some university undergraduates.

You might think the students would be pretty good at pricing their own pain. But their answers depended on prior experience.

  • People who had just experienced the effects of ice-water immersion demanded the most money for doing it again.
  • People who had experienced the pain before, but not recently, asked for less monetary compensation.
  • People who had never experienced the pain demanded the least amount of money of all.

This is one of the most common ways in which the empathy gap influences people is by causing them to underestimate the influence of their bodily type drives, which are factors such as hunger, pain on their decision-making ability.

Kids (and adults) when they are upset can easily throw things and break things. It is easier for people who watch them to say that is a bad way to express anger but they are in a 'hot' state which drives them to the not so good behaviour.