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Comunicar Journal 76: Neurotechnology in the classroom: Current research and future potential (Vol. 31 - 2023)

Digital empathy in online education: A comparison study between Portugal and Romania


This study aims to present the extent to which online education influenced the level of empathy displayed by university students. The research relies on a self-evaluated applied survey in two European countries: Portugal and Romania. The participants in this research are 1,085 students enrolled in Communication Studies programs. The purpose of this study is to unfold the connection between gender, exposure to digital technology, empathy level according to the Basic Empathy Scale applied to young adults, and online education self-perception that involves the use of webcams. Empathy can have positive effects on students’ satisfaction and increase students’ outcomes. The shift from a physical environment to a digital one brought significant challenges that most students and teachers were not ready for. The digital environment influences how empathy is expressed. The present research found evidence of a relationship between exposure to technology usage, emotional contagion, and gender. This suggests that understanding the emotions of others might be inhibited during digital education. Also, the most relevant factor of empathy variation in online education is gender. The findings of the present research may contribute to the design of activities or programs that could foster empathy expression during online education for young adults.