Empathy in a Citizen Deliberation Experiment

A1 Journal article (refereed)

Internal Authors/Editors

Publication Details

List of Authors: Kimmo Grönlund, Kaisa Herne, Maija Setälä
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons Ltd
Publication year: 2017
Journal: Scandinavian Political Studies
Volume number: 40
Issue number: 4
Start page: 457
End page: 480
eISSN: 0080-6757


Despite increased scholarly attention, there is still limited knowledge on how empathy works
in democratic deliberation. This article examines the role of empathy in citizen deliberation
with the help of a deliberative experiment on immigration. First, a random sample of citizens
was surveyed regarding their opinions on immigration. Based on their opinions, they were
then divided into a permissive or a non-permissive enclave, and randomly assigned into likeminded
or mixed-opinion groups for deliberation. After deliberation, they were surveyed
anew. The study analyzes: (a) empathy differences between permissive and non-permissive
participants; (b) changes in outgroup empathy toward immigrants as a result of deliberation;
and (c) differences in prosocial behavior (i.e., donating to charity). The results show that the
permissive respondents had more empathy, especially toward immigrants, than the nonpermissive
respondents. Among participants, outgroup empathy increased during deliberation.
Regarding prosocial behavior, the permissive participants donated more often to charity at
the end of the experiment.


Deliberation, Deliberative democracy, Empathy, Enclave deliberation, Experimental research


Last updated on 2019-21-10 at 02:40