These four emotions: scared, sad, angry, and bitter, all suggest that one has suffered or will suffer a loss. So all of them might inspire empathy and help from others. But they don’t do so equally. Consider the selfish costs of expressing empathy for these four emotions.
> our willingness to express empathy with those who suffer a loss is inverse to the loss they suffer. We empathize the most with those who suffer the least. Because that is cheapest.
While that makes sense to me on average I disagree that it is true in general. We most empathize with things we *can* empathize with - which in most cases are things that have happened to us before. As the loss increases so does the chance that an average modern person - especially those reading this blog - have encountered it. We can't rule out that explanation a priori.
I wondered the same thing and did a little reading that seemed to imply that envy and bitterness are somehow related, but it was quite a while ago. Searching for "ressentiment" and "embitterment disorder" might give you an interesting starting point though.
Also, those schools of thought consider bitterness/envy/resentment to be almost... "complex compound" emotions? (E.g. bitter is 'angry + helpless') which could partly explain the relative scarcity of literature and lack of sympathy that's been mentioned here.
While this may be true for scared vs. bitter, I don't think empathizing with those who suffer least is a universal principle.
If it were, beggars wouldn't try to look needy.
(The most "cynical" view isn't always true.)
While this may be true for scared vs. bitter, I don't think empathizing with those who suffer least is a universal principle. In general, I think we empathize the most with those who suffer the most. Consider people of different wealth -- someone who can't afford vacations; someone who can't pay for their kids' college; someone who can't pay for all their meals; a homeless person. Here, the empathy is higher the more someone suffers.
"We empathize the most with those who suffer the least." One of the great sentences. Even without thinking about it fully, it rings true. More likely we envy (and covet) those who suffer the least, and out of sheer guilt, we convert those feelings to empathy so as not to feel any sense of poverty within ourselves.
Anecdotic evidenc: I'd empathize less with angry person than a bitter one. Probably because I'm also conflict-averse and the chance of conflict is lower for a bitter person.
I don't expect to persuade an idiot like you so I won't waste any effort trying to do so.
That has nothing to do with what I wrote. You're not only a sociopath but a moron too.
I note if one wishes to apply this framework in a specific context, one would do well to specify what one means by each of the different words. There are versions of each of the four mentioned emotions which, when felt to a greater degree of severity, each seem to me to deserve more empathy than the mundane interpretations of any of these feelings. Being scared can manifest as panic. Anger can manifest as outrage or overwhelming indignation when faced with a great injustice. Sadness can manifest as depression. Bitterness can manifest as cynicism or defeatism in the face of a life full of utter suffering.
For the update: I don't think this is true. I googled "list of emotions" and 3 of the first 4 that came up had "bitter" listed. This is hardly conclusive evidence either way, but I think one list on Wikipedia is pretty unconvincing evidence (and seems motivated by a desire to support the theory rather than to reflect the true state of lists of emotions).
Empathize doesn't just mean feel sorry for.
True, but empathize does not mean "identify with."
Robins rankings def apply cleanly to human empathy for pet animal emotions. Or old or young people even. But most definitely not plausible leading men. Anger too strong a sign of power, fear of contemptible weakness.
Disagree. JFK death reaction. Also how personally people take it when their pol is insulted. Or fave athlete underrated. Empathize doesn't just mean feel sorry for. You can empathize with people who are mostly fortunate.
We don't empathize with the powerful. When we want leaders to be "one of us," we want assurances that they have a stake in our fights.
No I got your point - Flint is terrible, republicans too, rah gay marriage, boo autistic libertarians. You're on team Left, I got ya.