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Open AccessArticle

Does Engagement Build Empathy for Shared Water Resources? Results from the Use of the Interpersonal Reactivity Index during a Mobile Water Allocation Experimental Decision Laboratory

1
School of Environment and Sustainability, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK S7N 5A2, Canada
2
Department of Geography, Hong Kong Baptist University, Baptist University Rd, Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong 999077
3
Saskatoon Health Region, Saskatoon City Hospital, 701 Queen Street, Saskatoon, SK S7K 0M7, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2019, 11(6), 1259; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11061259
Received: 12 April 2019 / Revised: 6 June 2019 / Accepted: 14 June 2019 / Published: 16 June 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Security)
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. View Full-Text
Keywords: water security; empathy; interpersonal reactivity index; experimental decision laboratory; transboundary water management water security; empathy; interpersonal reactivity index; experimental decision laboratory; transboundary water management
MDPI and ACS Style

Bradford, L.; Chun, K.P.; Bonli, R.; Strickert, G. Does Engagement Build Empathy for Shared Water Resources? Results from the Use of the Interpersonal Reactivity Index during a Mobile Water Allocation Experimental Decision Laboratory. Water 2019, 11, 1259.

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