Empathy gap

Theory explained by Sander Volbeda and written by George Loewenstein

The empathy gap is a tendency of human psychology that results in the difficulty to understand a mental state which is different from the present state that a person is experiencing. Similarly, as a result of the empathy gap, we struggle to understand other individuals and their feelings who are in a different mental state than we are. For example, when we are in a very calm and relaxed mindset, it is difficult for us to predict how we will act when we are angry. Or in a situation where we are full on a diet, it is difficult for us to predict how well we can handle the temptation of eating when we are hungry. At the same time, a person who is in a safe environment will find it difficult to understand the feelings of someone who is scared. All these things happen as a result of the empathy gap in action. Overall, we can't overlook the serious implications that the empathy gap creates when we are to interpret and predict the behavior of other people as well as our own. Therefore, it is absolutely vital to understand this concept in order to avoid discharging other people's perspectives. The implication of the empathy gap can be seen in a variety of situations in consumer behavior and marketing in various forms. Therefore marketers around the world have taken this concept seriously in order to understand their consumers' behavior to provide them with the best solutions towards conversion rate optimization (CRO).

How to bridge the empathy gap in digital marketing?

Here is an astonishing fact. Do you know that 80% of markers claim that they possess a Holistic understanding of that target audience? But when a research was done based on this, it was concluded that only 35% of customers find the communication initiated by their favorite brands relevant. The difference between 35% and 80% is the empathy gap.

Study the past actions of your target audience

The past actions and consumer behavior will lead you to the right conclusion on how well your content had catered the needs of your target consumers. Reviews posted by your customers are ideal sources to figure out what went wrong and where the empathy gap has played its part. Furthermore, you can study how your target audience has acted towards your competitors in terms of a similar product or service to have a clear understanding on what was expected and what was given. Then, alter the way you address your customers based on the findings by aligning your focus with their mental requirement to get support for Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO).

Put your customers first

When you present content in your website, always pay attention to which problem is going to be solved from your product or service. Your content should be crafted in a way not just merely conveying the message on what you want to highlight about your product or service, but in a way highlighting how you are going to solve a problem of your target audience. The key here is not to present your product or service in your perspective but to map it with the psychological needs of your consumers. Hop into their shoes. Address your audience conveying them the message that you are well aware of their needs and your products and services are ready to solve their problems. If you simply try to highlight the strengths of your brand without understanding the psychological appeal of your target audience towards what you have to offer, then the empathy gap is still there which will not work great towards conversion rate Optimization (CRO).

Your customers don't need more content but useful content

A bulk of irrelevant content will definitely convey the message that you are not aware of the mental status and the requirements of your target audience. How exactly can you figure out the most relevant content for them? Give your customers a voice. Ask them what exactly they are looking for. To facilitate this, you can embed questionnaires to your website or social channels. Whether it is a product description, blog content, a white paper you offer, it should be customer centric. As marketers, you are not allowed to present content based on what you feel as most suitable because of the empathy gap.

Wrap up

We have this human psychological tendency of facing difficulties understanding a mental state of a person which is different to us which is known as the empathy gap. As a marketer if you fail to understand the mental state and the requirements of your target audience, the content you generate will be such a waste. In order to work positively towards conversion rate optimization (CRO), you should have the ability to bridge the empathy gap using the top tips we have briefed just for you.

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References

The references contain experiments and studies that prove this bias is there.

1. Less Power or Powerless? Egocentric Empathy Gaps and the Irony of Having Little Versus No Power in Social Decision Making
2. Empathy gap – what do we know about empathizing with others′ pain?
3. Empathy gap – what do we know about empathizing with others′ pain?

Books

Would you like to go more in-depth? Here are our recommendations:

Why Empathy Matters: The Science and Psychology of Better Judgment by J. D. Trout Buy this book
The Empathy Effect: Seven Neuroscience-Based Keys for Transforming the Way We Live, Love, Work, and Connect Across Differences by Helen Riess MD, Liz Neporent & Alan Alda Buy this book

Sources

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