Empathy & support for the welfare state: Ideological consonance & dissonance

Date & time

3–5pm 11 August 2014

Location

PSYC G8

Speakers

Stanley Feldman and Leonie Huddy, Stony Brook University

The social safety net is one of the foundations of the modern social welfare state: Old age pensions, health care, financial support for the unemployed, assistance to those affected by natural disasters. Public support for government benefits to the disadvantaged is therefore crucial for the legitimacy of the welfare state. An important element in developing sympathy for those in need should be empathy – the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

Drawing on data from three studies, we examine the effects of empathy on support for social welfare policies across the political spectrum and examine in some detail instances in which empathy and political ideology come into conflict.

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