UCL Discovery
UCL home » Library Services » Electronic resources » UCL Discovery

Why empathy has a beneficial impact on others in medicine: unifying theories.

Decety, J; Fotopoulou, A; (2015) Why empathy has a beneficial impact on others in medicine: unifying theories. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience , 8 (457) 10.3389/fnbeh.2014.00457. Green open access

[img]
Preview
Text
Why empathy has a beneficial impact on others in medicine: unifying theories..pdf

Download (728kB) | Preview

Abstract

The past decades have seen an explosion of studies on empathy in various academic domains including affective neuroscience, psychology, medicine, and economics. However, the volumes of research have almost exclusively focused on its evolutionary origins, development, and neurobiological bases, as well as how the experience of empathy is modulated by social context and interpersonal relationships. In the present paper, we examine a much less attended side of empathy: why it has a positive impact on others? After specifying what the construct of empathy encompasses, we briefly review the various effects of empathy on health outcomes in the domain of medicine. We then propose two non-mutually exclusive mechanistic explanations that contribute to explain the positive effects of physician empathy on patients. (1) The social baseline theory (SBT), building on social support research, proposes that the presence of other people helps individuals to conserve metabolically costly somatic and neural resources through the social regulation of emotion. (2) The free energy principle (FEP) postulates that the brain optimizes a (free energy) bound on surprise or its complement value to respond to environmental changes adaptively. These conceptualizations can be combined to provide a unifying integrative account of the benefits of physicians' empathetic attitude on their patients and how it plays a role in healing beyond the mere effect of the therapeutic alliance.

Type: Article
Title: Why empathy has a beneficial impact on others in medicine: unifying theories.
Location: Switzerland
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.3389/fnbeh.2014.00457
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnbeh.2014.00457
Language: English
Additional information: © 2015 Decety and Fotopoulou. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution and reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
Keywords: empathy, free energy principle, health, medicine, neuroscience, predictability, social baseline theory, social support
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Clinical, Edu and Hlth Psychology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1471312
Downloads since deposit
114Downloads
Download activity - last month
Download activity - last 12 months
Downloads by country - last 12 months

Archive Staff Only

View Item View Item