Cognitive vs. Affective Empathy
I have just read a really interesting book by Professor Baron-Cohen from the Autism Research Centre at Cambridge University in the UK entitled: Zero Degrees of Empathy.
It is a terrfic book and I am going to review it for my netx newsletter.
Possibly the most valuable insight that I have taken from the text is about cognitive versus affective empathy. The “cognitive” element of empathy relates to recognition, whilst the “affective” element relates to response or emotion.
To empathize and operate effectively both are required.
Cognitively a person may be unaware that someone is hurting because they can’t “read” the other person, but if a person with AS hears about or sees someone being upset it will register and , in turn, provoke a response meaning that they will enquire as to what can be done to assist the other person/prevent any upset.
I can see this so obviously in so many business contexts not leats of all when I have failed to respond to the affective emotional needs of some staff.
If a person is doing their job technically effectively, then surely they are (cognitive empathy) happy and there is no other need that I need to address?
I would be very interested to develop this argument/explore this area much further.
As Baron-Cohen says: empathy is the most under-utilised resource on the planet!