People Who Lack Compassion For The Environment Are Also Less Emotional In General

People who show less compassion and emotion toward images of environmental disasters are generally less empathetic and emotional overall. People who respond less emotionally to images of damage to the environment are also less emotional and empathic in general, according to a new University of Michigan study.

Differences in political ideology can limit policy adjustments that address climate change. Researchers and practitioners often raise concern by appealing to people’s empathy. However, some people appear less emotionally impacted by environmental destruction—particularly those who are more ideologically conservative and less pro-environmental, the study showed.

In a series of online experiments in the U.S., U-M graduate student Logan Bickel and psychology professor Stephanie Preston examined the emotional responses of more than 600 people in a variety of contexts. People not concerned when viewing pictures of damage to the environment—such as oil spills on fire in a gulf—also did not feel bad about other images including crying babies, officers in distress, injured athletes, wounded soldiers and even moldy food.

Consistent with this lack of contagious distress, more “impassive” people said that they felt less empathy for those in daily life and were less pro-environmental and less awed by nature. This group also responded less to positive images such as happy babies, ice cream and stacks of money, the research showed.

The study’s results suggest that some people’s lack of concern for the environment may not be particularly political or reflect a specific disinterest in the environment. It is instead a characteristic of their broader emotional palette, Preston said. “Given that our sense of risk and decisions are strongly guided by emotions, more impassive people are less inclined to dedicate resources to this slowly building crisis,” she said.

Appeals to help the environment must consider variation in people’s emotional make-up and devise new tactics for those who are unpersuaded by appeals to emotion, Logan said. The average American believes in climate change, worries about it, and supports related policy, but there are still considerable differences—across individuals and with political ideology—that limit the ability to foster change.

Researchers and practitioners often increase concern and action for others through feelings of empathy, which also increases pro-environmentalism. However, some people appear less emotionally impacted by environmental destruction—particularly more ideologically conservative and less pro-environmental individuals.

To determine why some people appear to be impassive to environmental destruction, we conducted 3 online studies to measure beliefs and emotional processes in political liberals versus conservatives. Across 3 studies, we replicated the link between impassivity and conservatism, and found that more impassive people acknowledge our negative impact on the environment but are less concerned about it and more confident in an eventual solution. Impassivity, however, is not specific to the environment.

People who are more impassive about the environment also respond less emotionally to positive and negative images that are unrelated to the environment, including human suffering and hedonic reward. They also report reduced trait empathy, perspective taking, and daily emotional expression and experience. Impassivity is not linked to differences in trait personal distress, anxiety, psychopathy (apart from low empathy), or trouble appreciating consequences.

Impassivity is not associated with deficits in processing others’ facial emotion during early perceptual decoding but is associated with the later suppression of emotion. Everyone will not respond to emotional appeals to help a distressed environment. Other strategies are recommended to reach a broad audience.

By: Morgan Sherburne

Source: People Who Lack Compassion for the Environment Are Also Less Emotional in General – Neuroscience News

Critics by Six Seconds

Empathy has been regarded by environmental thinkers as a key in conservation efforts. Nevertheless, systematic research on empathy toward nature, particularly from the personality perspective, has been lacking in psychology. The present research thus provides this needed investigation by testing four propositions regarding a new construct—dispositional empathy with nature (DEN), which refers to the dispositional tendency to understand and share the emotional experience of the natural world.

In five studies with 817 participants in total (including university students and working adults from two societies), DEN robustly and uniquely predicted conservation behavior (Proposition 1). Females, respondents who felt close to nature, and participants who considered nature to be sentient exhibited stronger DEN (Propositions 2–4). DEN was distinct from empathy with humans and a number of known determinants of conservation behavior (including personality traits, values, emotional involvement with nature, environmental concern, and social desirability bias).

Taken together, these findings highlight the possibility of developing a theory of empathy with nature by referring to the existing understanding about empathy with humans. The construct of DEN has much theoretical utility, as it sheds new light on several under-explored issues in conservation psychology (including the gender gap in environmentalism, the role of connection to nature, and the role of anthropomorphism), and bears practical implications for the promotion of environmentalism.

In addition, the newly developed scale for DEN is potentially useful for assessing the efficacy of environmental education programs. Other research studies have backed up the incredible research on greenery in urban environments. The results are clear: A lack of connection to nature results in crime and social breakdown. And conversely, efforts to greenify urban areas leads to better neighborly relations, more empathy, and less crime.

Police records confirm this anecdotal relationship between green space and social breakdown, providing an even more objective measure than the resident’s memories. Research from Columbia and Penn found that “cleaning and greening” vacant lots led to a 9% reduction in gun assaults. A 9% reduction in gun assaults! Greenery has also been linked to better long-term health outcomes – mentally and physically. Physically, greenery has been linked to less obesity, diabetes and hypertension.

Mentally, research in London found that a neighborhood’s greenery predicted how many medications related to mood disorders that the neighborhood pharmacy prescribed. Taken altogether, the findings suggest that connection to nature, Vitamin N, is an essential component of human health and wellbeing. Humans are incredibly adaptable, but we’re still deeply wired to our original habitat, the natural world. Should these findings change how we build our cities? Or within existing cities, where we choose to eat, work and spend free time?

While this research on making cities green is powerful and thought provoking, I found this research on nature’s effects on the individual level to be equally powerful, and even more actionable. You don’t have to become a farmer to reap the benefits of increased connection to nature. Research has found that even looking at nature through a window changes our brains and bodies on a cellular level.

“When you look out at a green landscape, even from indoors, your heart rate will go down,” explains Kuo, “and you’ll change from sympathetic nervous activity over to parasympathetic nervous activity, which is basically going from what we call ‘fight or flight’ into ‘tend and befriend’ mode. So it has these very systematic physiological impacts on us, which have long-term health outcomes associated with them.”…

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The Business of Empathy: How Pharmacists Can Improve Performance By Improving The Human Connection

Covid-19 highlighted the value pharmacists provide in disease management and prevention, but it hasn’t been an easy road. Patients relied on their pharmacies for more services and support than before; however, the increased demand has stretched the capacity of many pharmacies. When patients don’t receive the support they need, medication adherence suffers, which directly impacts pharmacy performance. It’s a difficult cycle to break during a critical time for pharmacy business.

Pharmacies can build on the positive momentum gained during the pandemic to improve patient engagement and, relatedly, medication adherence. A familiar face close to home can help ease patients’ anxiety as they cope with a new diagnosis. Empathic support can also make a positive impact on medication adherence—a key metric for patients’ health and for pharmacy business success. But pharmacies will need an empathetic helping hand to provide this support.

Medication adherence is one of the key indicators of pharmacy performance. Unfortunately, pharmacies have a high barrier to overcome because about half of patients do not take their medications as prescribed. This lack of adherence leads to about $500 billion in avoidable healthcare costs and contributes to up to 25% of hospitalizations each year.

Nonadherence is infrequently caused by simple forgetfulness. Patients stop or never start taking a medication for many reasons, including:

  • They can’t afford it.
  • They don’t understand the directions.
  • They don’t see the need for the medication.
  • They’re afraid of the side effects.
  • They are worried, scared, anxious, confused.

Regardless of the cause, the outcome is the same: potentially compromised patient health and lost pharmacy revenue.

Who owns the problem of adherence?

Everyone owns the problem of adherence. Understanding that adherence is a complex problem, all healthcare providers must come together to solve the problem. Tackling adherence requires a fundamental understanding of the human factors behind the problem and the solution.

Pharmacist-provided care requires empathy and genuine human connection. Practicing empathy leads to innumerable benefits for patients, including better medication adherence, fewer hospital admissions, and lower stress—the latter of which ties to numerous health improvements.

Improving patient engagement is key to improving medication adherence, and thus improving pharmacy performance and profitability. Engagement beings with prescribers who start the dialogue around the benefits and risks of a prescribed medication, the possible side effects, and the cost.

Pharmacists must continue that conversation to help ensure that patients fill prescriptions and take medications as prescribed. Given staffing shortages, it’s not an easy ask. A lower-cost, empathic support program would help fill the gap.

Another important reason to focus on patient engagement: it ties to payment for pharmacy services. The Pharmacy Quality Alliance advocates for pharmacist-provided care as part of healthcare’s shift to value-based payment models. Operating models based on financially sustainable, pharmacist-provided care lead to improved medication adherence, PQA reports.

To improve business performance, pharmacies must also focus on patient satisfaction—an important factor in retaining existing customers and acquiring new ones. Pharmacies can improve both engagement and satisfaction with a subtle shift in philosophy, from patient-centric to empathetic care.

What is empathy in pharmacy? 

Empathy is the ability or capacity to understand or feel the patient’s situation, perspectives, and feelings. In other words, it’s the capacity to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. It’s a human connection that instills confidence and builds trust between two individuals.

Empathic care improves patient satisfaction. Here’s an example: a pharmacy customer is fuming because her prescription is delayed. The pharmacy tech understands the customer isn’t angry at her. She’s scared because she doesn’t know what will happen if she misses a dose of her medication. Rather than shut down emotionally and finish the transaction as quickly as possible, the pharmacy tech explains the reason for the delay. She relays the patient’s concerns to the pharmacist, who provides a missed medication protocol. The pharmacy tech also puts the prescription on an auto-refill plan to prevent future delays.

By practicing empathic care, pharmacies achieve better rapport with their patients, engender trust, and establish loyal customers. Loyalty manifests in a number of ways – from glowing reviews, to customer retention, new customer acquisition, higher quality ratings, and increased payment for services – all of which help booth the pharmacy’s business.

How to provide a more human experience through technology

While most pharmacies strive to provide attentive, empathic customer service, they’re also stretched thin. A recent National Pharmacy Technician Association survey found almost all (91.4%) pharmacy techs experienced burnout caused by unmanageable workloads. Another survey found most (80%) pharmacies have trouble finding pharmacists.

Technology that’s easy to implement and nonintrusive to workflow can lighten some of the load for busy pharmacies. Low-code process automation software can take on mundane repetitive tasks, including measuring medication, filling orders, inventory management, and notifying patients that their prescriptions are ready for pickup. Automating these tasks frees up staff to focus on higher-value activities, such as genuine patient communication.

Some pharmacists are using digital tools to provide supportive services to Medicare providers. Pharmacists can conduct virtual consultations to discuss new prescriptions, provide medication therapy and chronic care management, and other services “incident to” healthcare providers.

Research, however, shows that patients want to be seen, heard, and met where they are emotionally. Not “messaged” or “app’d” repeatedly, but actually heard. The very notion of health has evolved in the last few years, with a vernacular shift from “patient” to “person” as one example.

Technology can support a more meaningful human connection. Based on the data, would a patient need a follow-up call the day after she picks up her prescription? Would they appreciate a check-in call if they haven’t picked up a prescription after a few days? This type of simple check-in may open the door to deeper conversations about cost, administration, or side effects.  It may also provide the space for a patient to express their worries, concerns, or confusions about their treatment. Or it may simply trigger a patient’s memory.

Studies have shown that empathic, positive communication is associated with improved patient satisfaction and quality of life compared to usual care. An Accenture survey of nearly 1,800 patients found that the most important factor in creating a positive experience was a provider “who explains the patient’s condition and treatment clearly,” (55%) followed closely by “a provider who listens, understands patient’s needs, and provides emotional support” (52%).

Pharmacies can be instrumental in instilling positive behavior changes in the patients they serve.  Behavior is the result of our motivation, ability, and prompt.  When pharmacies engage on a human level with patient support programs, patients become more fully engaged in their treatment, leading to potentially significant health benefits. The human-to-human connection relieves patients from isolation,  gives them confidence in their recommended treatment, and ensures that humans remain first in the digital/AI age.

Empathy is Good Business

Developing meaningful relationships with patients creates an emotional bond that helps patients make lasting change—including taking their medications as prescribed. Empathy activates and moves patients from emotion to action. When that action includes more prescriptions filled and refills as directed by physicians, that’s good empathy-derived business.

Michael Oleksiw

By: Michael Oleksiw

Michael is a leader in technology development and product data on a global scale for over 20 years solving specific business and societal problems through innovation.

Source: The business of empathy: How pharmacists can improve performance by improving the human connection – MedCity News

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