The Parking Ticket Experiment | The Science of Empathy
Articles Blog

The Parking Ticket Experiment | The Science of Empathy

– Wow, that was cruel. – That’s really —
– That was so cruel! – Yeah, breathe. – Whew, my word! Have you ever gotten a parking ticket? I bet it just ruined
your whole freakin day! Well, we’re going to ruin
today for eight people. For science, and for my own sick pleasure, but primarily for science. And don’t worry, we’re totally going to cheer them up after,
but how we do it is what today’s experiment
is really all about. We’re going to try to cheer
them up in two different ways, either by using sympathy or empathy. According to University
of Houston researcher, Dr. Brene Brown, these two
responses have the potential to yield very different outcomes. So, we thought we’d put
her claim to the test. We invited participants in and told them we’d be running
them through an experiment, but that it wasn’t quite ready to go yet. In the mean time, we had them fill out our classic happiness
test from season one. I keep a stack of these
babies in a drawer at home. Don’t say that’s weird. All fake happiness
scientists have that drawer. Moving on. As soon as they were done with
the test we pretended to cut, and told them we had to
set up the experiment. – [Director] All righty, and let’s cut. Guys that’s a cut, cut, cut, cut… – While we shuffled things around, one of the crew came in and told our participant they had gotten a parking ticket. – Hey guys, is anyone parked out on the street with a white Infiniti? – Me – You didn’t park at the meters did you? – Yes – Do any of you guys have a black Toyota? – Oh, please don’t tell
me it’s a Toyota Yaris. – Yes
– Oh my gosh, seriously? – Yeah – What happened? – No
– This was just on there. – Oh, why did I get that? – Did I just get a parking ticket? Shoot. – I swear, I just put money in the meter. – I paid it for two
hours and a quarter of. – I paid for the parking meter. – Did you? – And it said approved. – Cause the sign said two
hours at like 10 p.m., so I was like, oh I should be okay. – Son of a gun. – Kinda sucks – Did you get a parking ticket? – Yeah
– Oh – I thought that street was safe though, cause today’s Monday, right? – It is Monday. – So it said, no… There’s street sweeping on Tuesday, and it said two hours
between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. – Are you sure it wasn’t
10 a.m. and 6 p.m.? – I should probably take a
picture of it and try to… – It’s like dang. I don’t know how I got a ticket. I’m not in the red. – Now, I try to cheer them up. To one batch of volunteers, I would show some sympathy by acknowledging their frustration, but trying to get them to
look on the bright side. Did you get a parking ticket? – Yeah. – Whoa, that sucks. – I’m not exactly sure why. – Good thing they caught it. Maybe you would have gotten towed if it had been there longer,
or something like that. – That’s true. – Yeah Gotta look on the bright side. – It could have been worse, I guess. – Oh man.
– You know? It’s not like your gonna
get towed or anything. – Do they do that around here? – They’re vicious. Yeah, at least you didn’t get
towed or something like that. – Okay – Maybe you could fight it. – I hope so, cause I’m kinda like, that’s a little… – Yeah For the other batch, I would show empathy by sharing their frustration,
and embracing it. Did you get a parking ticket? – Yes, but I just paid for two hours. – Ouch! – They’re the worst. – They just blow your whole day. – Yeah – I’m stunned. It was 63 dollars. – Oh no. Tickets are so expensive. Maybe they made a mistake or something. That sucks though. – The credit card didn’t
go through, or something. – Maybe, yeah, cause you just walk away right after you do it.
– Yeah – It said approved before we walked away. – Oh shoot,
I swear my car was, one time, 13 inches from the curb and they were like too much. – That’s ridiculous.
– Yeah I’ve gotten parking tickets from the city and like, that were not fair. And I know everybody says that, but I swear. After knocking back one full dose of either sympathy or empathy, we had our participants take
a re-worded happiness test to see how they were impacted. – Do you need me to take that quiz again? The answers are gonna change. – Actually, that’s a really good idea, just for the sake of us, for our data. – Do you want me to take
this when I’m rolling or now? – Keep in mind, I didn’t actually do anything to make their ticket go away. Both groups still took that second test thinking they got a ticket today. Ready to start the experiment? – Yeah.
– Cool. You’ve actually already
done the experiment. You did not get a parking ticket today. – Oh! – That’s amazing! – All right, so breathe. – That’s awesome! – Yeah. You feel a little better? – Yeah – That makes me really happy – That looks so real. I was like, I thought it was a ticket and
I was like, wait a second. – I know I checked the signs. What did I do wrong? – The group I sympathized with saw their happiness go down
by an average of 6.71%. Not shocking, really. What was surprising was how the people I empathized
with felt afterwards. We expected their
self-reported happiness level to decrease but not as
much as the other group. In reality, their happiness went up by an average of 6.92%. Turns out, misery really
does love company. – I felt like we were on the same team, like the same side, like oh you know, this guy know exactly
what I’m talking about. – Feeling like I’m not the only person that gets a ton of parking tickets. Made me feel better and I
was like, okay you’re good. Like this will, you know, blow over. – If someone really sits down and is like, oh my gosh
we’ll figure this out, I’m on your team, then you feel like they’re kind of going above and beyond being a decent human being. – That sucks that you
had to go through that, you know, that’s like the typical, like your average response. People who really care, they’ll be like, yeah I’ve been there, you know. They’ll take the time to
relate with your situation. To help you feel better
to get you out of it. – Now, I’m not saying trying to maintain a positive outlook isn’t a good idea, but right when someone’s feeling the pain the best thing you can
do to cheer them up, is to understand them and make
them feel a bit less alone. – You just need someone to talk to, and we just need someone
that is genuinely listening to our problems and sometimes all you need to do, is like, let it out. – Could you forget how
that can make you feel, and how instantly that
can make you feel better? – People will definitely feel a lot better when then know that you’ve
been where they’ve been. Even if you haven’t been there, and you haven’t gone through
what they’ve gone through, at least try to relate
in some type of way. – So, next time someones hurting maybe don’t tell them to
look on the bright side. Instead, try to look at
their bummer situation from their point of view, on their level. And how does showing empathy
affect the empathizer? Well, we’ll find out next time on the Science of Empathy. ♫Soulpancake

91 thoughts on “The Parking Ticket Experiment | The Science of Empathy

  1. Hehe, that is a good test on what works better. Sadly, we don't all have empathy to begin with, many people never learn it. But having empathy is not just useful for making other people feel good, it is also good for our personal benefit, because empathy makes us a better friend, co-worker, parent and boss. Because even being fired sucks a lot less if we get it with a dose of empathy. Been there, done that :))

  2. Wow I learned something today! Thanks! I subbed because of this! ANd wait, 2M subs and never knew of you?! Good for you!

  3. This was such a great episode! I've watched you guys since 'the science of happiness' days and you have always been my favorite channel on youtube. I can always count on you guys to brighten my day <3 Thank you for this awesome video! It's enlightning and interesting with a touch of the soulpancake love <3

  4. Great episode, really interesting content. But maybe try and not have annoying whistling looping in the background next time so I can actually listen to the whole of it properly? #notcheerful #Irritating

  5. Right when someone is going through the pai, the best thing you can do is understand them and help them feel less alone. Yes, exactly this. Thank you!

  6. I hate it when people tell me to look on the bright side of things. When I've just been delt a huge blow I don't need your crappy silver lining. The "try to think positive crap never helps me feel better."
    I think most people say that so that they don't feel bad because they can't help make the situation better.

  7. What does telling someone to think about the bright side of things, have to do with sympathy? I always thought sympathy was feeling bad for someone and empathy was relating to how they feel and experiencing the pain with them.

    For example if someone's dog dies it would be sympathy to say "oh man that's so terrible! I feel so bad for you, that must be just awful" Whereas empathy would be saying "I also lost a beloved pet and i understand how they are just like family and how bad it hurts"

    From my experience people prefer empathy over sympathy, but i am trying to understand why they (in the show) depicted sympathy as telling people it could have been worse. That doesnt seem like a good example of sympathy to me. Either way even if they depicted sympathy as just feeling bad for someone, i still think the result would have been the same as empathy brings people closer and a person feels more validated when speaking to someone who truly understands.

    Still an interesting concept for a video. Bet these people were stoked not to have to pay a ticket!

  8. This is one of the best episodes I've ever seen. SoulPancake is the best channel on YouTube! Thank you so much for the high quality work you guys do!

  9. Speaking in a empathy manner also applies to people who are depressed as well. Thanks for this video SOULPANCAKE. It helps people understand the difference between emapathy and sympathy.

  10. I probably shouldn't be watching this type of video knowing how much they frustrate me but it has left me really confused. I've seen a few of the series and get the point but they seem way too easy like showing the result they wanted to show, maybe that's just me (or the fact that they are so short loads must have been cut out). None are perfect bit this one particular left me confused because as I know the dictionary definitions or sympathy and empathy they were not given in the video and also used out of context.
    I've read comments about people not naturally being able to empathise but isn't that the thing to begin with? You can't empathise with something you haven't experienced or relate to, you can however be kind and try to understand, you sympathise. If you have experienced the same you can relate and empathise, it's to do with you YOU feel. This series has mainly focused on how you react to your feelings but tbh everyone needs something different in that situation. Some may like the "oh yeah I get it", I like going through solutions. Most people can feel empathy and sympathy, regardless, it's the way they act upon it and show it that varies.
    I struggle with this topic as it is I might just never be able to get it haha

  11. That's sympathy though, not empathy, what you've been doing the second time. Different sauce, but still sympathy, not empathy. Sharing your own story of failure and so on = expressing sympathy. Check Brené Brown's short cartoon.
    Empathy, on the other hand, is just being present for someone and, if needed, help them unfold their feelings, and feel those feelings as well. That's empathy.
    You might have done that for them as well, but there was sympathy mixed in. That is very confusing.

  12. Interesting I always find it annoying when people empathise and I always try and cut the convo short because I want to resolve the issue.

  13. I agree empathy wins out and better for collectively and individual betterment.
    However, what if you genuinely haven't experienced something (s) another has experienced?

  14. I always thought that joining in their feelings would just make it worse, and cancelling their feelings out a little would be better. Seeing it like this you seemed like a much nicer guy the second part. I should make some personality changes 😉

  15. Bro get some new lenses that don't magnify your eyes or contact lenses if you want to be a host in videos far less to be talking about science in them. Like it's almost kinda pathetic. I mean the technology to compress lenses to reduce magnification of eyes for eye glasses has been around for over a decade now and offered pretty much everywhere and isn't even that much. Contact lenses have also been around forever.

  16. This is really interesting to me, because whenever I've tried to relate my experiences to my friends to make them feel better, I get told that inserting my own narrative is selfish/self-absorbed. For that reason I now just have to rely on empty platitudes like, "It'll be okay in the end!" :/

  17. This is true. I'm the kind of person who rarely opens up about my problems. This one time quite recently I opened up to one of my closest friends because I was having weird experiences with anxiety that were hard to deal with. It was horrifying. So I opened up to them and I don't think they understood. All I got was "ha I get those dizzy, tired feelings sometimes too". I undesrtand thst it's no one elses responsibility to deal with my own problems but it still made me feel pretty horrible. That one time I decifed to open up because I couldn't deal alone. Well I guess I will never open up again lol.

  18. Are people stupid? I would LOVE someone brainstorming solutions with me! One time there was no solution to my problem, and I was very frustrated about it. Eventually someone helped me, which made it better. That's all I cared about. My gf at the time didn't feel the same about it as me, but that didn't matter. It didn't hurt, nor would it have helped otherwise. What mattered was that her mom helped me fix it. Her mom isn't empathetic, in fact, she may be sociopathic, because she has this way of manipulating people with faux emotions. However, it was that very ability that helped me! I don't need someone to tell me my emotions are valid. If you do, then I think you're lacking self-confidence, or something.

  19. I don't always like the empathetic way of sharing. When I'm talking about how I feel and then someone turns around and talks about their experiences it pisses me off. Like listen to me until I'm done venting. Don't tell me your bad luck story

  20. Please, please, please make an experiment of how far can someone deny someone’s actions by saying “Did you?” after what they say :-p That was sooo cool when she said that and the reaction was like “Maybe I didn’t!!!” :-p

  21. Romans 12:15-16 NASB
    [15] Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. [16] Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.

    Thats the bible for ya 🙂

  22. I really like parking tickets, they teach me to respect the rules of the road, I LIKE THE RULES OF THE ROAD

  23. Me : What happend?
    Friend : My mom just died.
    Me : Awe that sucks. You know it could have been worse.

    This would be me trying to empathize, im not good with human talking

  24. Where is the control? I want to compare how people would feel if the guy did nothing to sympathize or empathize with them, instead just letting the idea of the ticket sink in on its own. Would the subjects shown sympathy at least be a little less unhappy than the control subjects? You guys are leavin' me hangin' here lol.

  25. I remember one time at Bible college my professor told me people don't want to hear stories when they're going through a hard time, but I long to hear people's stories in those moments because then I know I can relate to them. That's why I tell my stories after I've listened to them. I feel like Christian culture, which I'm a part of, often tells people to just think positively.

  26. This explains why I feel way more sad than I was to begin with when people sympathize with me. Especially when they pretend to have gone through what I'm going through but you can tell they haven't simply based on the fact that they're sympathizing instead of empathizing.

  27. I tend to say look on the bright side kinda stuff because I want that person to feel better..I am glad I watched this so I can help myself help others better.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back To Top