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The Empathy Gap: Building Bridges to the Good Life and the Good Society

3.6  ·  Rating Details ·  58 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
A road map to a better society linking the cognitive psychology of individual and social decision making

Drawing on his sweeping and innovative research, philosopher and cognitive scientist J. D. Trout recruits the latest findings in psychology, behavioral economics, and neuroscience to answer the question: How can we make better personal decisions and design social policie
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published February 5th 2009 by Viking Adult (first published December 24th 2008)
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Feb 02, 2009 Hannah rated it liked it
Shelves: poverty, politics
I picked this up because I read in a NY Times op-ed by Trout that "policy is more efficient than empathy as a way of meting out goods. There are formulas that are more accurate and less costly than subjective judgments in so many areas, including whether to parole a prisoner or hire an employee." My kind of dude, indeed.

The book is at once deeply philosophical and incredibly practical. It's full of great examples of research from both public policy and psychology on why we support the things we
Jun 24, 2016 David rated it liked it
<7/24/2016 addition at bottom>

Trout's introduction presents us with certain underlying premises such as the fact that what we may tend to refer to as a person's "bad decision" is often an attempt (successful or not) to pick the least-bad alternative available in the problematic contexts of today's society. Payday loans are problematic for the person taking the loan, but the people who take those loans tend not to have much better options. He tells us this to point to the issue of the poor
May 23, 2009 Walter rated it it was amazing
The Empathy Gap is an excellent (if at times taxing) exploration of our human nature, our decision-making and our policy-making. Essentially, the author, Professor J.D. Trout, seeks to outline "a new twenty-frist century Enlightenment of the head and heart, of rationality and empathy" that will lead us to create a more consistent, fairer society in the U.S.

On most fronts, the effort is a smashing success. In the course of the work, Prof. Trout exposes the biases to which we are prone, the limits
Aug 04, 2012 Defaceo rated it really liked it
Policy makers cannot ignore Physics and biology in order to best inform their decisions nor can they ignore well based psychological research in order to do achieve that. Political discourse mostly draws from ideological psychology, not scientific psychology, offering no pragmatic/optimal solutions to real problems.

J.D. Trout opens the the book with an ethical theory of sorts based on human compassion and a concept of a decent society (i.e. that which gives it's citizens good options, the best
Alan Gerstle
Jul 27, 2014 Alan Gerstle rated it really liked it
The author's premise is that contemporary research in perception and cognition has shown that humans are "programmed" to mis-perceive and to make mistaken judgments, so that policy makers should use these findings to "override" our inaccurate inferences. The problem I find in his work is that he cites the results of many "laboratory" studies that support his view, while not examining or discussing in detail the reliability and validity of the studies he uses. Thus, he may be guilty of the very p ...more
Erin Sterling
I thought this would be better than it was because it's in the narrative non-fiction behavioral economics + cognitive psychology that other books such as The Wisdom of Crowds, Freakonomics, Outliars, Predictably Irrational, and Nudge fall into. I had heard most of the studies before and the result was not that coherent. Ah well.
Feb 27, 2010 Phil rated it liked it
It was interesting to see someone use actual numbers to back up social behavioral science I didn't agree with all the political views, but I've been saying that policy-makers need to look at the numbers (on any issue), and this book confirmed that opinion.
Feb 27, 2013 Ariadna73 rated it liked it
Shelves: sociology, chronics
This is a book about how can we help others starting by changing ourselves. It is full of curious data about the preferences of human beings; and the ways they react. I fount it difficult to understand at some points.
Solady Batterjee
Sep 08, 2010 Solady Batterjee rated it it was amazing
I read this book during the rain crisis that Jeddah went through. It helped me to make sense to what was happening.. How people delta with the crisis.. Their reactions and emotions..
Apr 09, 2010 Jillian rated it liked it
Sometimes repetitive, but interesting.
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Mar 17, 2009
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Mar 09, 2010 Julie is currently reading it
This book could've used a good editor!
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J.D. Trout is a Professor of Philosophy and Psychology at Loyola University Chicago. He received his PhD in Philosophy at Cornell University in 1988, and has also taught at Bryn Mawr College and Virginia Tech. His chief interests include the nature of scientific explanation, the psychology of human judgment, scientific realism and intellectual progress, and social/political issues bearing on well- ...more
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