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The empathy gap is a cognitive bias that causes people to struggle to understand mental states that are different from their own.
When someone is happy or angry, they struggle to understand the perspective of someone who is in a different mental state, whether that person is their future self or someone else.
The empathy gap causes us to misjudge our own emotions and behaviors. Examples include overestimating our ability to stay composed in a stressful event, overestimating the likelihood that we can control our desire for an addictive substance, such as coffee, or underestimating how much our feelings for someone affected our judgment in the past.
The empathy gap can cause people to be unprepared for situations and act differently to what they would ideally prefer.
The way we process and make decisions depends on our current mental state.
When we are angry, we struggle to understand the perception of someone who doesn't care about the same thing because we are in a different mental state than they are. Empathy gaps toward people in one's outgroup can be because of a need to form boundaries around one's social group.
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