empathy, sex differences, difference feminism, poverty, welfare, U.S. culture
Difference feminists have argued that women have special virtues. One such virtue would seem to be empathy, which has three main components: imaginative projection, awareness of the other's emotions, and concern. Empathy is closely related to identification. Psychological research and the author's own study of women's and men's talk about poverty and welfare use in the United States demonstrate women's greater empathic concern. However, some cross-cultural research shows greater sex differences in empathy in the United States than elsewhere. This combination of findings (women tend to demonstrate greater empathic concern, but this typical difference varies cross-culturally) requires a complex biocultural explanation, drawing on cognitive, psychoanalytic, and feminist theories. Explanation, and not just description, is a prerequisite for change.
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STRAUSS, C. (2004), Is Empathy Gendered and, If So, Why? An Approach from Feminist Psychological Anthropology. Ethos, 32: 432–457. doi: 10.1525/eth.2004.32.4.432