Positive empathy

Lay intuitions suggest that the ability to share, celebrate, and enjoy others’ positive emotions – a phenomenon we term positive empathy – bolsters individual well-being and relationship strength. However, it was unclear from past work whether positive empathy is distinct from highly related constructs and whether positive empathy is associated with salutary social and personal outcomes. Our research provides evidence that positive empathy is related to, but independent from, constructs such as general positivity and empathy for others’ distress. We also find that positive empathy correlates with increased prosocial behavior, social closeness, and well-being. Building on this work, lab members are now probing these relationships and testing whether positive empathy directly causes these beneficial outcomes.