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KDI 경제정보센터

ENG
  • 경제배움
  • Economic

    Information

    and Education

    Center

최신자료
In Their Shoes
NBER
2024.06.20
We explore the mechanics of empathy. In a controlled immersive virtual reality experiment, we show that neutral information on unauthorized immigration magnifies the empathetic response of subjects when they witness the struggles of unauthorized migrants. We conjecture that perceiving others as similar magnifies empathy: it makes it possible to live their experience as if one were ‘in their shoes.’ In a separate, incentivized experiment, we show that the same neutral information increases perceived similarity to unauthorized migrants. We provide similar evidence in observational data, showing that contact with a given foreign origin group induces a greater empathetic response - more charitable donations - after the country of origin of this group is hit by a natural disaster, and a higher perceived similarity to this group. Together, our evidence suggests that the ability to put oneself in the shoes of another person or group can be enhanced through standard policy tools such as neutral information provision and inter-group contact.