Are you good at sensing when a friend is upset or do you find it difficult to tell what other people are thinking? Many of us are naturally empathetic and good at sensing the emotions and needs of others, but it isn’t always easy.
Being empathetic is about understanding how another person is feeling, even if they’re in a situation that you haven’t experienced yourself. While this is mostly a positive trait, it can lead to empathetic people feeling overwhelmed by the feelings and problems of their friends and family.
Scroll down to take our quick personality quiz below to find out how empathetic you are and find out more about the science of empathy.
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Why empathy means you can ‘catch a yawn’
If you see someone else yawning, it can be quite hard to stop yourself yawning too. Scientists believe that copycat yawning stems from our natural empathy and ability to sense the feelings of others.
On the other hand, a lack of yawning can be a sign of schizophrenia or autism.
Are we born with empathy?
A study into empathy at Cambridge University – the largest of its kind ever conducted – found that most of us are not born with empathy. It’s very much down to how we’re raised. Only 10% of our empathy and compassion can be put down to our genes.
The study showed that women are more empathetic men, but this wasn’t due to any genetic differences.