Original Paper

Journal on Multimodal User Interfaces

, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp 143-161

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

A three-component framework for empathic technologies to augment human interaction

  • Joris H. JanssenAffiliated withEindhoven University of Technology and Philips Research Email author 


Empathy can be considered one of our most important social processes. In that light, empathic technologies are the class of technologies that can augment empathy between two or more individuals. To provide a basis for such technologies, a three component framework is presented based on psychology and neuroscience, consisting of cognitive empathy, emotional convergence, and empathic responding. These three components can be situated in affective computing and social signal processing and pose different opportunities for empathic technologies. To leverage these opportunities, automated measurement possibilities for each component are identified using (combinations of) facial expressions, speech, and physiological signals. Thereafter, methodological challenges are discussed, including ground truth measurements and empathy induction. Finally, a research agenda is presented for social signal processing. This framework can help to further research on empathic technologies and ultimately bring it to fruition in meaningful innovations. In turn, this could enhance empathic behavior, thereby increasing altruism, trust, cooperation, and bonding.


Empathy Affective computing Social signal processing Emotion Human interaction