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Empathy mapping: A collaborative exercise for developing perspective taking and emotional intelligence

Track: Experiential Learning Association (ELA)

Keywords: Empathy mapping, perspective taking, emotional intelligence, elicitation technique, experiential exercise

Cognitive empathy, or the ability to take another’s perspective (sometimes called “outrospection”), is an essential function for effective leadership and management. This empathy mapping exercise is a quick, simple tool to help managers take the perspective of others. For example, when placed in the role of a manager whose supermarket will adopt 100% self-check-out, exercise participants might use empathy mapping to elicit system requirements by examining “Tilly,” a persona representing the concerns of an elderly customer segment. Empathy mapping is commonly used in design, project management, and marketing and can easily be adapted for many contexts, including management (and management education). During this session, educators will be instructed to use empathy mapping to better understand their students concerns. A debriefing will revisit the motivation and relevance of empathy, summarize the exercise (including reactions and responses from students who have participated in the exercise), and identify teaching resources.


Paul Szwed -
Massachusetts Maritime Academy

Angela Wick -
University of Minnesota, BA-Squared


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