What are good empathic scenes in movies?

Dear Movie Lovers and Cineasts!

Have you got some time and joy in supporting some empathy research by sharing your movie expertise with me?

I am just starting my PHD Project on the topic of empathy and I am really eager to understand - what makes different people understand each other? What hinders them in understanding each other?
In a first step, we are going to use Eye Tracking to see what exactly people look at and attend in visual scenes and if/how it affects their understanding of the situation of the other. We kind of wonder, if empathy for other people starts with the way we look at them.

To do this, we need, well, visual scenes with an empathic context. In a broader sense, any context, in which person A experiences something and has an emotion about it, can serve as an empathic context.

We are aiming for situations that have a trivial, day-to-day character, in which person A experiences emotions because of some situation. Or, if the situation is not of a day-today character, then at least realistic (no aliens coming through the backdoor or dead people talking through the phone). This situations need to require some degree of perspective taking on the part of the observer (whose gaze behavior we are eventually interested in and are going to look at). Also, we need single scenes, not whole movies. So it should be clear from the scene (2-6 minutes) what the deal is all about.

Some situations we thought of:

  • Person A receives the message that partner B is dead
  • Person A is proud of seeing B achieve something
  • Person A and B are siblings/partners/friends. B accomplishes something and A reacts with joy/happiness/anger/jealousy
  • Person A almost gets tramped over in the full subway. (We could actually use any everyday situation in the subway/train)
  • Person A is a drug addict and steals from B. B catches him stealing.
  • Person A in the waiting room of an hospital. Doctor comes and says that A is terminally ill/ not terminally ill
  • Person A catches partner B sniffing in her/his personal stuff (e.g. reading diary)
  • Person A invites people to a dinner/party/ something and nobody or very few shows up
  • Person A gets out of the train and realizes that she has forgotten her luggage. She turns around to get in but the doors of the train have already closed
  • Person A sits with partner B in a park. Then C sits besides B. B starts flirting with C or at least checking her out. A gets angry/jealous/sad.
  • Person A is adopted and finally finds his parents and they meet for the first time. Biological parent(s) happy OR unhappy (both situations are interesting)
  • After trying several times, young, overweight A succeeds in jumping over a vaulting horse.
    Actually here I could use any situation that shows how someone “unlikely” succeeds in sports. But it needs to be a more realistic scene and not something like Rocky Balboa running upstairs to some victorious sounding music
  • Person A is really nervous because of a presentation and she succeeds OR doesn’t succeed at it (we could use both situations for our research)

Feel free to propose different ones. What is important - A experiences something, has an emotion about it. The scenes should give away enough information so the observer has a chance to understand the situation.
Also, it would be really helpful, if you give me a hint at where to look for the scene or what happens in the scene.
I am really really excited about your answers, guys!

Don’t forget scenes that involve children or children in peril. Anecdotally, since I became a parent last year, scenes involving children and families affect me much differently now. Room was one of the first movies my wife and I watched after the birth of our child and we cried the entire time. I don’t think I would have reacted the same if I was not a parent.

Thanks for your input in this forum. However, this forum is meant for site-related discussions only (how things work on iCM, bugs, new lists, new features, etc…) . If you want to talk about movies in general, I suggest you go to www.icmforum.com.

Good Point!, thanks for the hint, i am going to check it out! :slight_smile:Similar personal history is indeed one of the criterias discussed to enhance perspective taking. We expect to have college students for subjects, read a lot of non-parents :wink: Because of this, we were first thinking of concentrating mainly on experiences that are very common for different age groups. But then, it is also a skill to feel into the other without having experienced exactly the same.

okidoki, thx for the Suggestion!

I can second peterskb45’s experience.