3 Types Of Character Empathy

EMPATHY is defined as a character’s (or audiences’) ability to deeply experience another character’s emotional state.

SYMPATHY occurs when one person simply understands another person’s emotions from a more detached and calmer point of view.

Let’s explore the 3 main types of empathy.


This is the most basic kind of empathy where one person appreciates another’s view of a situation. It is an academic process that allows one character to understand how another person thinks and allows them to communicate in a more logical and efficient manner.

It is probably the most evolved of all three types of empathy. It is ideal in screenplays where characters must influence one or more people. It is also used by movie villains to manipulate other people.

It is sometimes referred to as “empathy by thought” or “perspective taking” and is often viewed as an under emotional response.


This type of empathy allows one character to connect both physically and emotionally with another character. It allows one character to personally experience another character’s emotions. This can be both good and bad.

Emotional empathy  is often called “personal distress” or “emotional contagion”. It is the most intimate and primal form of empathy often used by children and salespeople.

Emotional empathy is often viewed as an over emotional response. It can be both good or bad depending on how much of another character’s emotions one character takes on.


This is a more practical form of empathy and allows one character to sense another person’s needs and react accordingly. It is a hybrid of the other two forms of empathy by balancing thinking with feeling emotions.

It is the most common form of empathy seen in various vocations such as health care professionals, law enforcement officers and educators.

Compassionate empathy is often referred to as “empathic concern.”

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