Empathy in a Citizen Deliberation Experiment

Kimmo Grönlund, Kaisa Herne, Maija Setälä

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31 Citations (Scopus)
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Despite increased scholarly attention, there is still limited knowledge on how empathy worksin democratic deliberation. This article examines the role of empathy in citizen deliberationwith the help of a deliberative experiment on immigration. First, a random sample of citizenswas surveyed regarding their opinions on immigration. Based on their opinions, they werethen divided into a permissive or a non-permissive enclave, and randomly assigned into likemindedor mixed-opinion groups for deliberation. After deliberation, they were surveyedanew. The study analyzes: (a) empathy differences between permissive and non-permissiveparticipants; (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 thepermissive respondents had more empathy, especially toward immigrants, than the nonpermissiverespondents. Among participants, outgroup empathy increased during deliberation.Regarding prosocial behavior, the permissive participants donated more often to charity atthe end of the experiment.

Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)457–480
JournalScandinavian Political Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2017
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


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

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