Does engagement build empathy for sharedwater resources? Results from the use of the interpersonal reactivity index during a mobilewater allocation experimental decision laboratory

Lori Bradford, Kwok Pan CHUN, Rupal Bonli, Graham Strickert*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Currently, there are no tools that measure improvements in levels of empathy among diverse water stakeholders participating in transboundary decision-making. In this study, we used an existing empathy scale from clinical psychology during an Experimental Decision Laboratory (EDL) where participants allocated water across a transboundary basin during minor and major drought conditions. We measured changes in empathy using a pre-test/post-test design and triangulated quantitative results with open-ended survey questions. Results were counter-intuitive. For most participants, levels of the four components of empathy decreased after participating in the EDL; however, significant demographically-driven differences emerged. Qualitative results confounded the problem through the capture of participant perceptions of increased overall empathy and perspective taking specifically. Implications for methodological tool development, as well as practice for water managers and researchers are discussed. Water empathy is a particularly sensitive construct that requires specialized intervention and measurement.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1259
JournalWater (Switzerland)
Volume11
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2019

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Aquatic Science
  • Water Science and Technology

User-Defined Keywords

  • Empathy
  • Experimental decision laboratory
  • Interpersonal reactivity index
  • Transboundary water management
  • Water security

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