Seeing Us in Them: Social Divisions and the Politics of Group Empathy, Cigdem V. Sirin, Nicholas A. Valentino and José D. Villalobos

Reviewed by Davin L. Phoenix



Contemporary politics appears to be characterized by an escalating wave of ideological, ethnic, religious, and national tensions, which play out across legislative chambers, neighborhood streets, and social media pages. Yet frequently these pervasive conflicts are punctured by moments of expression of genuine intergroup solidarity, be it white people joining in calls for racial justice, or straight people urging legislators to protect LGBTQ rights.

What drives the impulse to act to improve the condition of a social group to which one does not belong? Which social groups exhibit more or less of an inclination toward this impulse? How can this impulse be nurtured so that more people enact a politics of out-group care rather than in-group protectionism? These are some of the questions answered in Seeing Us in Them, a comprehensive and incisive analysis of group empathy by Cigdem V. Sirin, Nicholas A. Valentino, and José D. Villalobos.

Not content to view solidarity with out-group members as merely the opposite end of measures of out-group animus, such as racial resentment or social dominance orientation, Sirin, Valentino, and Villalobos set out to define and measure the concept of group empathy. They ascertain the role played by group empathy in shaping people's attitudes and actions in a variety of contentious issue domains, such as

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