Insights Speaker Series covers group empathy and opposition to restrictive voting laws

March 23, 2023

Contact: Jon Meerdink ([email protected])

ANN ARBOR — The Institute for Social Research held the latest edition of its Insights Speaker Series for 2023 on March 9.

Nicholas Valentino, a research professor at ISR’s Center for Political Studies, spoke on the growing opposition to oppressive voting laws, specifically outlining how empathy toward marginalized groups can increase responses to these laws. According to Valentino, efforts to increase empathy toward these outgroups can increase opposition to restrictive voting laws since those laws disproportionately target ethnic and racial outgroups in the United States.

“This kind of empathy is probably, as a result of the way empathy works, rarer than empathy for our closest kin. That is, it occurs less often and is probably less intensely felt,” he said. “But it can condition reactions to threats, especially when thinking about the way that governments treat different groups differently in society.”

Valentino has written and spoken extensively on this and related subjects in the past, co-authoring an award-winning book titled Seeing Us in Them: Social Divisions and the Politics of Group Empathy. His findings suggest that cultivating group empathy, especially among the most politically sophisticated groups in American culture, could solidify opposition to unjust voter laws.

View Valentino’s presentation below and follow ISR’s Insights Speaker Series page for more information on upcoming events.

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