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Nicholas Valentino Receives APSA Best Book Award

June 22, 2022

Seeing Us in Them: Social Divisions and the Politics of Group Empathy by Cigdem V. Sirin, Nicholas A. Valentino, and José D. Villalobos will receive the American Political Science Association (APSA) best book award at the 2022 APSA meetings. This award is given annually for the best book on government, politics, or international affairs.

The same book also will receive the award for the best book in experimental research. The award committee had this to say:

In Seeing Us in Them: Social Divisions and the Politics of Group Empathy, Sirin, Valentino, and Villalobos develop a theory of group empathy—the ability and motivation to care about members of outgroups. The authors carefully construct and test a new measure of the central concept, the Group Empathy Index, which consists of cognitive and affective elements (extant), catalyzed by the motivation to care (novel). They then examine the new concept in seven nationally representative studies as well as a number of smaller studies, employing survey experiments on the topics of discrimination in airport security, maltreatment in immigrant detention, and humanitarian intervention against repressive authoritarian governments. The experiments are carefully carried out and demonstrate that group empathy shapes how people think about policies that might help outgroup members in distress. Importantly, while group empathy is a key driver of policy attitudes across the board, members of minority groups are substantially more likely to extend it. Altogether, the authors demonstrate that group empathy matters for public opinion about immigration, humanitarian intervention, civil rights, LGBTQ rights, #BlackLivesMatter, #MeToo, environmental disaster relief, terrorism, welfare, Brexit (in the UK), and foreign aid policies related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Seeing Us in Them shows that empathy for outgroups is a powerful concept that carries the potential for improving our understanding of public opinion broadly.