Enhancing Empathy in Higher Education

Publication Date


Document Type



Counseling | Social and Behavioral Sciences


This abstract is located on pg. 260 of the linked conference proceedings.


Current trends in empathy research focus on spreading empathy education throughout the helping professions (Ekman & Krasner, 2017). Watters (2013) discussed the link between narcissistic attitudes, student-centered pedagogical practices, and improper entitlement. The authors suggest increasing empathy to address this trend in higher education. The purpose of this study was to assess the empathy of university students before and after a counseling skills training course helping professionals to hear and understand others in an empathic context. Empathy was assessed pre and post using the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (Davis, 1980) and the Empathy Quotient (Allison, Baron-Cohen, Wheelwright, Stone, & Muncer, 2011). Statistical analysis were conducted in the form of paired samples t-tests using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS). Results are discussed in light of future implications for higher education, and resources are provided for empathy building exercises that can be used in a workshop format or in the classroom.