Expanding Empathy Lecture Series: Heidi Maibom & Stefan Pfattheicher

Expanding Empathy Lecture Series: Heidi Maibom & Stefan Pfattheicher
May 4, 2022
– 1:00PM

The Expanding Empathy series at the Rock Ethics Institute is entering its fourth year, as a core feature of the Moral Agency and Moral Development Initiative led by Dr. Daryl Cameron. In this year’s iteration, Dr. Cameron and Dr. Martina Orlandi, Post-Doctoral Scholar in Engaged Ethics at the Rock Ethics Institute and Schreyer Honors College (as well as member of Dr. Cameron’s Empathy & Moral Psychology Lab) are co-organizing the series. To highlight the value of interdisciplinary conversation, each panel consists of one psychologist and one philosopher, who will each give a talk on a shared theme and then find points of convergence and divergence in live discussion with audience afterward.

Additionally, for each panel, Dr. Orlandi will be arranging a podcast (“N.7”) with each speaker to highlight their background, and Dr. Cameron will be organizing a meeting of the Moral Agency Workshop for informal conversation and networking at 3:00 p.m EDT, Wednesday, May 4, on Zoom.

The overall goal of the Expanding Empathy series is to highlight the value of cutting-edge scientific and philosophical work on empathy and moral judgment, and to highlight the importance of the interdisciplinary moral psychology research being done here at Penn State as well. This year, in addition to the primary sponsorship from the Rock Ethics Institute, the series also will be receiving support from the Psychology Department, Philosophy Department, Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center, and Social Science Research Institute.

Expanding Empathy 2022 main graphic


“Perspective in Empathy” by Heidi L. Maibom

Abstract: Maibom argues that empathizing with what someone feels is a way of taking their perspective. The reason is that emotions are complex psychological states that are indexed to individual wellbeing. 

Heidi L. Maibom is professor of philosophy at University of Cincinnati and Distinguished Research Professor at the University of the Basque Country. She received her PhD from University College London and has held fellowships at Cambridge and Princeton Universities. Her work is focused on empathy, emotion, psychopathology, responsibility, and wellbeing. She is the author of Empathy & Morality and The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Empathy. Her new book on perspective taking The Space Between: How Empathy Really Works is coming out with Oxford University Press this spring. 



“Promoting welfare during the COVID-19 pandemic: The bright and dark side of empathy” by Stefan Pfattheicher

Abstract: Past research has convincingly demonstrated the beneficial consequences of empathy for the welfare of others. In this talk, it is argued that empathy plays a key role in promoting welfare during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although getting vaccinated and wearing face masks provide a personal benefit by reducing the likelihood of infection, they also provide welfare to other people by lowering the chances of transmitting the infection. Several studies will be presented showing that empathy for those most vulnerable to the virus promotes the intention to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and to wear face masks. However, the emotional fire of empathy can also be exploited, potentially promoting reduced vaccination intentions. The double-edged nature of empathy will be discussed. 

Stefan Pfattheicher is Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology and Behavioural Science at Aarhus University. Pfattheicher’s work is primarily in social psychology, focusing on prosocial behavior, empathy, and more recently vaccine-hesitancy. His work as appeared in many international journals, among which Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Health Psychology, and Psychological Science. 



Topic(s): Expanding Empathy Lecture Series, General, Health, Public Life