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Seeing Us in Them
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Book description

What causes some people to stand in solidarity with those from other races, religions, or nationalities, even when that solidarity does not seem to benefit the individual or their group? Seeing Us in Them examines outgroup empathy as a powerful predisposition in politics that pushes individuals to see past social divisions and work together in complex, multicultural societies. It also reveals racial/ethnic intergroup differences in this predisposition, rooted in early patterns of socialization and collective memory. Outgroup empathy explains why African Americans vehemently oppose the border wall and profiling of Arabs, why Latinos are welcoming of Syrian refugees and support humanitarian assistance, why some white Americans march in support of Black Lives Matter through a pandemic, and even why many British citizens oppose Brexit. Outgroup empathy is not naïve; rather it is a rational and necessary force that helps build trust and maintain stable democratic norms of compromise and reciprocity.


‘In Seeing Us in Them, Sirin, Valentino and Villalobos introduce a novel theory of group empathy which helps answer the puzzle of why individuals sometimes support policies that do not advantage their own group. This is a fresh, innovative, and much-needed exploration in an area of work that has predominantly focused on factors that lead to negative inter-group relations. The authors draw from a rich trove of data to explore both the causes and consequences of group empathy across a range of contexts and country settings. It is a must read for anyone interested in understanding factors that improve intergroup relations and is particularly important given the contemporary political climate.’

Jennifer L. Merolla - University of California, Riverside

‘Empathy - the ability to put one’s self in the place of another - is a topic too often overlooked in academia and too seldom practiced in political life. Using carefully-designed experiments and the tools of social and political psychology, the authors bring new insight to empathy and its important role in politics.’

Kristen Renwick Monroe - University of California, Irvine

‘In terms of its intellectual contribution, the book makes a large and well-timed contribution to our understanding of an understudied phenomenon - how empathy for groups acts as a buffer to group conflict, incivility, and polarization. We know why groups hate each other, but very little about prosocial behaviors, such as empathy and cooperation. Now we know what most social scientists have been missing all these years.’

Mark Peffley - University of Kentucky

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  • 1 - The Puzzle
    pp 6-19
  • Empathy for Outgroups amid Existential Threats and Ingroup Interests


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