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Scientific article
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French

The impact of empathy and perspective-taking instructions on proponents and opponents of immigration

Publication date2020
Abstract

In many societies, immigration is a conflictual topic, leading to heated exchanges between proponents and opponents of immigration. Such debates on immigration might benefit from the engagement of the discussants in empathy and perspective taking. Although empathy and perspective-taking exercises can be beneficial in some contexts, previous research shows marked differences in people with a rightist versus a leftist political orientation when it comes to their motivation to engage in empathy. The degree to which this applies to perspective taking and to the context of debates on immigration has not yet been tested. The current study, conducted in Switzerland, tested how proponents or opponents of immigration react to instructions for empathy and perspective taking in debates on immigration. The results reveal that, compared with participants in the control condition who had no instructions, proponents of immigration who received instructions were more motivated or willing to engage in empathy and perspective taking. Furthermore, proponents of immigration showed decreases in their positive and negative emotions under the perspective-taking instructions. Conversely, for opponents of immigration, perspective-taking instructions increased their perception of other's competitiveness compared with participants in the control condition. Taken together, these results underline the importance of taking an individual's views on immigration into account when implementing interventions for conflict resolution in immigration-related issues.

Citation (ISO format)
KLIMECKI-LENZ, Olga Maria, VÉTOIS, Matthieu, SANDER, David. The impact of empathy and perspective-taking instructions on proponents and opponents of immigration. In: Humanities and Social Sciences Communications, 2020, vol. 7, n° 1. doi: 10.1057/s41599-020-00581-0
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