Empathetic Validity in Practitioner Research

Jun. 10, 2008

Source: Educational Action Research, Volume 16, Issue 2 June 2008 ,
pages 279 - 290

This paper explores the concept of empathetic validity, that is, the potential of practitioner research in its processes and outcomes to transform the emotional dispositions of people towards each other, such that greater empathy and regard are created.
The paper argues that practitioner research that is high in empathetic validity contributes to positive human relationships and, as such, is an important form of research in an age of increasing violence as well as stress and tension in the workplace.
The paper makes a distinction between internal empathetic validity (that which changes the practitioner researcher and research beneficiaries) and external empathetic validity (that which influences audiences with whom the practitioner research is share).

The argument draws upon three kinds of data: a range of emotional transformations I have experienced as a practitioner researcher myself in a current project; data from colleagues who have reported emotional transformation as a result of their practitioner research; and accounts from published literature. Both positive and negative instances are examined.

The paper concludes that there is enough evidence for the validity of this concept for it to warrant serious consideration by practitioner researchers and by the broader research community.

Updated: Oct. 05, 2008