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Encyclopedia

Sympathy is a social affinity in which one person stands with another person, closely understanding his or her feelings. The word derives from the Greek συμπάθεια (sympatheia)[1], from συν (syn) "together" + πάθος (pathos), in this case "suffering" (from πάσχω - pascho, "to be affected by, to suffer"). It also can mean being affected by feelings or emotions. Thus the essence of sympathy is that one has a strong concern for the other person. Sympathy exists when the feelings or emotions of one person are deeply understood and appreciated by another person.

The psychological state of sympathy is closely linked with that of compassion, empathy and empathic concern. Although empathy and sympathy are often used interchangeably, a subtle variation in ordinary usage can be detected. To empathize is to respond to another's perceived emotional state by experiencing feelings of a similar sort.[2] Sympathy not only includes empathizing (but not always), but also entails having a positive regard or a non- fleeting concern for the other person.[3]

In common usage, sympathy is usually making known one's understanding of another's unhappiness or suffering, especially when it is grief.

Sympathy can also refer to being aware of other (positiveTemplate:Dn) emotions as well.

In a broader sense, it can refer to the sharing of political or ideological sentiments, such as in the phrase "a communist sympathizer".

References

  1. Sympatheia, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, at Perseus
  2. Chismar, D. (1988). Empathy and sympathy: the important difference. The Journal of Value Inquiry, 22, 257-266.
  3. Decety, J., & Batson, C.D. (2007). Social neuroscience approaches to interpersonal sensitivity. Social Neuroscience, 2(3-4), 151-157.

Further reading

  • Decety, J. and Ickes, W. (Eds.) (2009). The Social Neuroscience of Empathy. Cambridge: MIT Press, Cambridge.
  • Decety, J. and Batson, C.D. (Eds.). Interpersonal Sensitivity: Entering Others' Worlds. Hove: Psychology Press.
  • Eisenberg, N., & Strayer, J. (1987). Empathy and its Development. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Lamm, C., Batson, C.D., & Decety, J. (2007). The neural substrate of human empathy: effects of perspective-taking and cognitive appraisal. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 19, 42-58.

External links

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Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

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Contents

English

Etymology

From Middle French sympathie from Late Latin sympathia from Ancient Greek συμπάθεια (sumpatheia) from σύν (sun), with, together) + πάθος (pathos), suffering).

Pronunciation

Noun

Singular
sympathy

Plural
sympathies

sympathy (plural sympathies)

  1. A feeling of pity or sorrow for the suffering or distress of another; compassion.
  2. The ability to share the feelings of another; empathy.
  3. (psychology) A mutual relationship between people such that they are correspondingly affected by any condition.
  4. (physiology) A mutual relationship between organs such that a condition of one part causes an effect in the other.
  5. This word needs a definition. Please help out and add a definition, then remove the text {{rfdef}}.
    • 1997: Chris Horrocks, Introducing Foucault, page 67, The Renaissance Episteme (Totem Books, Icon Books; ISBN 1840460865)
      Sympathy likened anything to anything else in universal attraction, e.g. the fate of men to the course of the planets.

Derived terms

Translations

The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.

Simple English

Sympathy exists when the feelings or emotions of one person lead to similar feelings in another person so that they share feeling. Mostly sympathy means the sharing of unhappiness or suffering, but it can also mean sharing other (positive) emotions. In a broader sense, it can refer to the sharing of political or ideological sentiments, such as in the phrase "a communist sympathiser".

The psychological state of sympathy is closely linked with that of empathy, but is not identical to it. Empathy refers to the ability to perceive and directly experientially feel another person's emotions as they feel them, but makes no statement as to how they are viewed.

Sympathy, by contrast, implies a degree of equal feeling, that is, the sympathiser views the matter similarly to how the person themselves does. It thus implies concern, or care or a wish to reduce negative feelings others are experiencing.

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