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Coding empathy in dialogue

Author: Macagno, F., Rapanta, C., Mayweg-Paus, E., & Garcia-Milà, M.
Published in: Journal of Pragmatics, 192, 116-132
Year: 2022
Type: Academic articles
DOI: 10.1016/j.pragma.2022.02.011

Empathy, broadly defined as the ability to experience another's emotions and perceptions, is one of the major attitudes and actions underpinning an individual's participation in dialogue across diversity. The goal of this methodological paper is to operationalize empathy as a discursive construct, manifested in children and adolescent dialogic interactions. A coding scheme is developed based on three distinct steps. First, a review of the operational definitions of empathy is carried out, to capture how its related values, skills, and dispositions have been detected thus far. Second, the definitional elements resulting from this overview are represented in the dialogical notion of other-orientedness, which can be manifested, actually and potentially, in discourse. Moves are distinguished in 8 categories based on their disposition to be potentially other-oriented (dialogicity), which becomes actually manifested depending on their relevance to the discourse they are used in. Dialogicity and relevance are captured by the coding scheme proposed in this paper, which is validated and used to illustrate how it can reveal dialogical empathy and the development of common ground in interactions.

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