The Participation Blog


This is a story about water allocation in Saskatchewan. Unless you happen to be a water policy geek, this probably sounds like a snoozer, but bear with me. This is actually a story about empathy and a lesson learned from a seemingly unlikely source.

Creativity, adaptability, persuasion and empathy are (currently) beyond the capabilities of technology. The piece is kind of long and involved, so I’ll cut to the chase using a quote from the article: “As researchers, we need to promote interpersonal connections. This matters so that stakeholders communicate with each other about real consequences of poor allocation decisions and work together on solutions.” If you’re now curious about the details, please read on.

I read a great quote from Jamil Zaki: “Being a psychologist studying empathy today is like being a climatologist studying polar ice. Each year we discover more about how valuable it is, just as it recedes all around us.” He’s right of course; research and empirical evidence says that people are less empathic than ever before, primarily with people who are different from them.

We might empathize with people in our own little tribe but not so much others. But on the heels of that comes research suggesting that babies as young as 6 months have shown signs of empathy. Does that mean, like hate, that we actually learn to be less empathetic? Read More …