Empathy, Critical Thinking, and Creativity: Theories, Training, and Interrelationships

Date of Completion


Document Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Steven Schwartz


This thesis presents a supposition, based on a review of existing theoretical and empirical literature, that there exists a three-way relationship between empathy, critical thinking, and creative thinking. Initially readers are provided with an overview of some of the literature on empathy theories, as well as on training methods used for the promotion of empathy. Then, through an examination and comparison of ideas put forward by empathy theorist Martin Hoffman, critical thinking philosopher Robert Ennis, and creativity expert Teresa Amabile, an overlap is detected with regard to the components involved in the three above-mentioned areas of study. In addition to this componential overlap, a stronger consanguinity is presented as existing between some of the theorized and/or researched methods of training for empathy, critical thinking, and creativity. These methods include; role playing, modeling, nuturance, formal reasoning and highlighting. The fourth chapter discussed the educational implications in terms of the infusion of the five methods into regular academic curriculum, and the notion that teachers can learn to fulfill three objectives (empathy, critical thinking, and creativity) via the use of just one of the previously-mentioned techniques. These techniques can help those involved in education to efficiently provide students with "real" situations in which to use skills in empathy and critical and creative thinking, and an opportunity for deeper engagement with and this, understanding of, the content at hand.


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