Empathy in the Commitment against Hidden Hunger

Empathy in the Commitment against Hidden Hunger

Commitment to fight micronutrient deficiencies demands a fundamental degree of empathy. This is reason enough to ask, what actually triggers compassion and how it motivates people to act altruistically.  Empathy, as effectuating as this trait may be, does not arise by itself and certainly not out of the blue. Therefore, according to Fritz Breithaupt Professor for Cognitive Science at Indiana University Bloomington, it is not sufficient to describe the precarious situation of those in need of help in order to evoke empathy (1). In order to be compassionate, it is also necessary to show the addressed that they will be generally able to help the people in need.

Three aspects encourage humanitarian helpfulness:

  1. The deficit should have emerged largely without one’s fault and undeserved
  2. There should be an option to improve the condition.
  3. This positive change will probably not happen by itself, but is more likely or accelerated by the personal commitment of the helping person.

The more the helpers imagine their room for maneuver, Fritz Breithaupt says, the greater their sympathy with the weaker, and the greater the willingness to actually help.


Read more:

(1) Breithaupt (2017) German: Die dunklen Seiten der Empathie. Suhrkamp Taschenbuch Wissenschaft. Berlin, Abschnitt III.1. Helfer, Helden und Humanismus; also translated: The Dark Sides of Empathy. Section III.1. Helpers, heroes and humanism, preferably pages 125 to 140.

(2) Further literature in English: Paul Bloom (2016) Against Empathy – The Case for Rational Compassion. Harpercollins Us; Ecco

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