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The Nature of Sympathy

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

Abstract

In the psychology of motivation the instrumental response is theoretically related in some way to the general wellbeing of the person whose motivation it is. But the motivational structure of sympathy is different. The orientation of sympathetic behavior is not the welfare of the person who is sympathetically motivated, but that of the person who is the object of that sympathy. This distinction is not about “satisfaction” or “happiness,” although both may sometimes be involved. It is about the dependent variable for which sympathy is the motivation. Take, for example, the intake of food. Taking food may be equally “satisfying” to the person whose motivation is hunger and to the person whose motivation is sympathy, except that in the first case the food is eaten by the hungry person, and in the second case the food is eaten by the person who is the object of sympathy. The logic of this distinction was set forth many years ago by Bishop Butler (see Broad, 1979), and I will consider it further in Chapter 4.

Keywords

Motivational Structure Phenomenological Description Obvious Distinction Psychical Phenomenon Reflective Orientation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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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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