Effective Practices for Fostering Empathy Towards Marine Life
Conservation behaviour change is complex, with many internal and external motivations and barriers. Increasing knowledge about ocean animals and ecosystems is important, but not enough to incite meaningful conservation action. Empathy is an important internal driver of human behaviour and may be an important indicator of an individual’s willingness to take conservation action. Despite their exciting potential for fostering behaviour change, affective outcomes like empathy have not had as much attention from marine science educators as cognitive outcomes. This chapter presents the construct of empathy and its components, discusses empathy’s relationship to behaviour change and offers six research-validated practices for developing empathy.
KeywordsEmpathy Anthropomorphism Emotion Affective outcomes Behaviour change
- Carley, S, Chen, R., Halversen, C., Jacobson, M., Livingston, C., Matsumoto, G., et al. (2013). Ocean literacy: The essential principles and fundamental concepts of ocean sciences for learners of all ages. Version 2: March 2013. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved from http://www.coexploration.org/oceanliteracy/documents/OceanLitChart.pdf.
- Chawla, L. (2007). Childhood experiences associated with care for the natural world: A theoretical framework for empirical results. Children, Youth and Environments, 17, 144–170.Google Scholar
- Chawla, L. (2009). Growing up green: Becoming agents of care for the natural world. Journal of Developmental Practices, 4(1), 6–23.Google Scholar
- Chudler, E. H. (Ed.). (2015). Brain plasticity: What is it? Neuroscience for Kids. Retrieved June 9th, 2015 from https://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/plast.html.
- Crain, W. (2000). Theories of development: Concepts and applications. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
- Cuff, B. M. P., Brown, S. J., Taylor, L., & Howat, D. J. (2014). Empathy: A review of the concept. Emotion Review, 1–10.Google Scholar
- Goldman, J. (2014). Mirror neurons are essential, but not in the way you think. Retrieved from http://nautil.us/blog/mirror-neurons-are-essential-but-not-in-the-way-you-think.
- Kohl, R., & Wenner, A. (2012). Prison animal programs: A brief review of the literature. Office of Strategic Planning and Research. MA. No. 13-362-DOC-01.Google Scholar
- Merzenich, M. M., Tallal, P., Peterson, B., Miller, S., & Jenkins, W. M. (1999). Some neurological principles relevant to the origins of—And the cortical plasticity-based remediation of—Developmental language impairments. In Neuronal plasticity: Building a bridge from the laboratory to the clinic (pp. 169–187). Springer: Berlin.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Myers, G. (2007). The significance of children and animals: Social development and our connections to other species (2nd ed.). West Lafayette, Indiana: Purdue University Press.Google Scholar
- Myers, O. E., Jr., & Saunders, C. D. (2002). Animals as a link toward developing caring relationships with the natural world. In P. H. Kahn, S. R. Kellert, et al. (Eds.), Children and nature: Psychological sociocultural and evolutionary investigations. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
- Myers, O. E., Saunders, C. D., & Bexell, S. M. (2009). Fostering empathy with wildlife: Factors affecting free-choice learning for conservation concern and behavior. In J. H. Falk, J. E. Heimlich, & S. Foutz (Eds.), Free choice learning and the environment (pp. 39–56). AltaMira Press: Lanham, MD.Google Scholar
- Ornaghi, V., Brockmeier, J., & Grazzani, I. (2013). Enhancing social cognition by training children in emotion understanding: A primary school study. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 119(2014), 26–39.Google Scholar
- Sobel, D. (1996). Beyond ecophobia: Reclaiming the heart in nature education. Great Barrington, MA: The Orion Society and The Myrin Institute.Google Scholar