Humanizing a problem

Research suggests that humans have a strong propensity for kindness and generosity, but we don't always act on our altruistic instincts. Frequently, that’s because we see a problem—such as poverty or illness—only in terms of statistics rather than as the suffering of real human beings.

Personal stories are more likely than abstract statistics to evoke emotional reactions and to elicit empathy, which is a precursor to altruism. Humans evolved in contexts where it was unusual to know about problems that they could not see with their own eyes. This exercise helps you overcome that challenge by putting a “human face” on a problem. 

Put a face to a scientific challenge

Empathy Design Thinking

Empathy is "the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another" (Merriam-Webster, 2022). There are five stages of empathy designed thinking:

  1. Empathize – Gain an empathic understanding of the people you’re designing for and the problem you are trying to solve.
  2. Define - Put together the information you have created and gathered during the Empathize stage to define the core problems that you have identified up to this point
  3. Ideate – Start generating ideas, strive to come up with as many as possible.
  4. Prototype – Develop the most promising ideas in a low-risk manner to investigate & test the solutions developed
  5. Test - Rigorously test the complete product using the best solutions identified during the prototyping phase

Spend some time applying Empathy Design Thinking to how students experience CBS.

Apply empathy design thinking

Brené Brown on Empathy

Watch Brené Brown discuss empathy. 

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ARTICLE: The science of compassion

Compassionate Action Network is based out of the Northwest Pacific and they explore the difference between compassion, empathy, and altruism.

Read article

PODCAST: The liberating power of self-compassion

This interview includes clinical evidence of the importance of self-compassion along with techniques and exercises for cultivating this pivotal quality. 

Listen to podcast Guided self-compassion meditations

TED TALK: How compassion could save your strained relationship

Watch Betty Hart talk about how we might shift from cancel culture to compassion.

Watch the TED Talk