Empathic Bias

Empathy is a psychological tool for discerning the mind-set or emotional cast of another person via inverted projection. Instead of engendering comity, empathy succors a surety of comprehension which fortifies opinion.

As political polarization has become more pronounced, psychologists have suggested a deficit of empathy as contributing. Instead, research by American political scientist Elizabeth Simas and colleagues showed that “empathy is biased toward one’s in-group and can exacerbate political polarization.” Empathic people develop a stronger partisan bias in evaluating contentious political events.

“Moral emotions evolved to help us navigate a world where tribal solidarity offered an advantage. It makes sense that empathy is in-group oriented,” said American political scientist Eric Groenendyk.


Elizabeth Simas et al, “How empathic concern fuels political polarization,” American Political Science Review (31 October 2019).

Leo Benedictus, “People with more empathy may actually increase political divisions,” New Scientist (10 November 2019).