How, rather than what type of, music increases empathy

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate


In their article on music and empathy, Greenberg, Rentfrow and Baron-Cohen propose to employ the Emphasizing–Systemizing (E-S) theory as a framework for analyzing the intrapersonal and social psychological processes that underlie the capacity of music to promote empathy. In particular, the authors consider the implications of E-S theory for autism, and speculate about which types of music might be most effective for increasing empathy in individuals with autistic spectrum conditions (ASC). The main premise of the article is that different personality types, characterized as empathizers versus systemizers, prefer different types of music, and that the key for increasing empathy with music is to choose the type of music that is most associated with empathizers. This commentary attempts to shift the focus of analysis from the type of music, to the more fundamental mechanisms by which music in general may promote empathy. From this alternative perspective E-S theory leads to surprising theoretical predictions about music, empathy, and ASC.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)96-98
Number of pages3
JournalEmpirical musicology review
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


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