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Empathy in online communities

The meaning of «empathy in online communities»

Empathy has been studied in the context of online communities as it pertains to enablers of interpersonal communication, anonymity, as well as barriers to online relationships, such as ambiguity, cyberbullying and Internet trolling. It has been found that on online health support communities members tend to exhibit higher levels of empathic concern.[1][2]

A number of studies have explored the importance of empathy in offline settings. For example, one study found that mindfulness and acceptance-based behavioral approaches may have potential for increasing empathy in interpersonal relationships.[3] Other work has explored the link between fiction and empathy, suggesting that the experience-taking quality of fiction may increase empathy among readers.[1][4] There is also evidence that individuals tend to more readily feel empathy for those that they view as similar to themselves.[5]

In online contexts, several researchers have pointed out that there are some key differences in how users interact online that may affect levels of empathy. For example, communication in online forum communities interact asynchronously, and are generally text-based rather than verbal communications.[6] Establishment of trust in online communities may also operate differently in online environments.[7] Furthermore, communications related interactions with others online might facilitate empathy while video or online gaming might negatively affect empathy.[8]

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