Daniel Barratt 1
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Tracing the Routes to Empathy
Association, Simulation, or Appraisal?
in Film Studies
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This paper attempts to trace the psychological routes to empathy by assessing the relative merits of three alternatives. Traditionally, empathy has been explained in terms of two psychological processes: association and simulation. After concurring that associative connections play a significant role in generating empathy, the paper focuses on the imaginative activity of simulation, arguing that many of our empathetic responses to film characters can be spelt out in the alternative terms of emotion related appraisal. In order to demonstrate this point, the paper analyses an example of empathy from Hitchcock‘s Psycho (1960), concluding that the term ‘simulation’ should be reserved for those instances in which we deliberately attempt to imaginatively entertain a characters thoughts and feelings.

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