What Does The Empathy Symbol Stand For?

The Empathy Symbol stands for 2 “sides” reaching out to each other, and opening up to try to truly understand the other’s experiences and feelings. It could be 2 groups of people: men and women, blacks and whites, Jews and Muslims, fundamentalist Christians and atheists, Israelis and Palestinians, gays and straights, old and young, able-bodied and disabled, immigrants and native-born, and so on; or it could be 2 individuals: spouses, neighbors, co-workers, etc.

The Original Empathy Symbol, created in 1973

People have asked about the origins of the empathy symbol. I was a college student, active in the anti-Vietnam war movement. EmpathyMedallion150wI was contemplating the peace symbol I was wearing, when suddenly the idea for the empathy symbol popped into my head, full-blown. It felt as though it had been given to me, and I have felt spiritually charged to bring it to the world ever since. Deb Ellsworth

Empathy News

Featured Empathy Promoter

The Making Caring Common Project from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education.

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The mission statement of the MCC states: “Making Caring Common (MCC) aims to strengthen the abilities of parents and caretakers, schools, and community members to develop caring, ethical children. We’re working to make these values live and breathe in the day-to-day interactions of every school and home.” To that end, it offers many thoughtful and helpful ideas based on excellent research. A particularly useful resource is their 5-point plan called “How Parents Can Cultivate Empathy in Children.” bit.ly/1rWBS1mThis guide offers clear and practical ways to help children become more empathetic, with “try this” ideas for each one. They are:

1. Empathize with your child and model empathy at home.
2. Make caring for others a priority and set high ethical expectations.
3. Provide opportunities for children to practice empathy.
4. Expand your child’s circle of concern.
5. Help children develop self-control and manage feelings effectively. A recent New York Times article featuring this new and important project. Read more at bit.ly/1rWBS1m

See our previously featured Empathy Promoters.

Using the Empathy Symbol

The empathy symbol is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License. You may copy, distribute and transmit the material on this site and the empathy symbol as long as you attribute the work to www.EmpathySymbol.com. You may not use this work for commercial purposes without additional license. You may not alter, transform, or build upon this work , without additional license. You may seek additional license to do so by contacting us.

We are seeking partners to help spread the Empathy Symbol, and the value of empathy in our world. If you are interested in creating t-shirts or other clothing, jewelry, coffee mugs, or other items using the empathy symbol, please contact us.

Empathy Tatoos

  • An inspirational symbol indeed. Hopefully I can increase awareness of the importance of this level of consciousness here in Ghana. George Aboagye
  • David G. proudly shows his commitment to empathy.
  • Amanda says, “I love this movement. I am an introverted person by nature and though I consider myself considerate, empathy isn’t second nature for me. That is why I chose to have a permanent reminder that I need to try to see the world through others’ eyes. It’s my feather :)
  • Nils says, “I got my empathy symbol tattoo almost two years ago. the symbol is part of a bigger tattoo …. I also got the symbol on my bicycle . 😉 Greetings from Germany.
  • Kristeena says: I am from San Antonio and got this while visiting Los Angeles. I’m a counselor who works with at risk youth and Empathy is my life.
  • Katie says ” I got this done in August because I wanted to remind myself to be more empathetic and also because I wanted to educate people about empathy and what it’s all about. The empathy symbol is on my pinky. ”
  • Tyler says ” This tattoo reminds me everyday to be more understanding of others and hopefully live in a world where everyone can empathise with each other.”
  • James is proudly displaying his new tattoo that says, “Humility, Empathy, Respect”