An interesting new study finds that people are more willing to empathize and donate money to the poor if the recipient seems ashamed, rather than angry, about their plight. When a privileged person, in the position to donate, sees anger from the poor, the person feels they are being blamed for an inequality. But if the privileged person sees shame, they feel the poor are blaming themselves, and are therefore “able to feel pride” about their own higher standing, and are willing to donate. This may run contrary to how we perceive “empathy” but it’s an interesting insight. As is often uncovered in therapy or counseling, how we treat others can have more to do with how we see ourselves than how we see someone else.
© Copyright 2010 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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