The Definition of Sympathy

  • Lauren Wispé
Part of the Perspectives in Social Psychology book series (PSPS)


In the preceding chapters we have seen how the concept of sympathy was defined and used in the works of those who were probably the most important theorists of sympathy in modern times. Although some of the writers seemed to describe rather than to define sympathy, there was considerable agreement on many of the most important features. Most of the points of agreement, as well as the problems that caused differences, will become clear in the context of this chapter. In what follows I will offer a definition of sympathy that may lend itself more readily to empirical research, while still retaining the most important agreements from the preceding discussions. In addition, I will consider at some length what sympathy is not.


Emotional Contagion Empathic Accuracy True Sympathy Conative Component Emotional Identification 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lauren Wispé
    • 1
  1. 1.University of OklahomaNormanUSA

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