Our ability to interpret the mental states of others is essential to constructively engage ethnic, religious, and political differences and depends on our capacities for perspective taking and empathy.Perspective taking is a cognitive process that involves imagining how another feels, or one would feel, in a particular situation whereas empathy refers to the natural ability to share and thereby understand the emotions and feelings of others. Organized around the major research questions on empathy, this chapter reviews our current understanding of the natureand development of empathy;the biases that occur in reading mental states; the relationship of empathy with prosocial behavior; and the role of educational practices in enhancing empathy. In particular, findings of neuroimaging studies have advanced our understanding of the neurocortical mechanisms underlying the processes involved in reading the mental states of others
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