To read the full version of this content please select one of the options below:

Understanding emotional empathy at postgraduate business programmes: what does the use of EEG reveal for future leaders?

Steve Lambert (Faculty of Education and Children's Services, University of Chester, Chester, UK)
Nikolaos Dimitriadis (University of York European Campus, City College, Thessaloniki, Greece)
Michael Taylor (Faculty of Education and Children's Services, University of Chester, Chester, UK)
Matteo Venerucci (Brain Propaganda, Belgrade, Serbia)

Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning

ISSN: 2042-3896

Article publication date: 29 April 2021

Issue publication date: 19 October 2021

251

Abstract

Purpose

This paper focusses on the leaders' ability to recognise and empathise with emotions. This is important because leadership and particularly transformational leadership are principally focussed on an individual's social interactions and their ability to identify emotions and to react empathetically to the emotions of others (Psychogios and Dimitriadis, 2020). Many leadership theorists suggest the ability to have and display empathy is an important part of leadership (Bass, 1990; Walumbwa et al., 2008).

Design/methodology/approach

To examine the extent to which those who work in jobs with a significant element of leadership education can recognise and empathise with emotions, 99 part-time postgraduate executive Master of Business Administration (MBA) students took part in an emotional recognition test. First, all participants were shown a sequence of pictures portraying different human facial expressions and the electrical activity in the brain as a result of the visual stimuli were recorded using an electroencephalogram (EEG). The second stage of the research was for the participants to see the same seven randomised images, but this time, they had to report what emotion they believed they had visualised and the intensity of it on a self-reporting scale.

Findings

This study demonstrated that the ability to recognise emotions is more accurate using EEG techniques compared to participants using self-reporting surveys. The findings from this study provide academic departments with evidence that more work needs to be done with students to develop their emotional recognition skills. Particularly for those students who are or will go onto occupy leadership roles.

Originality/value

The use of neuroscientific approaches has long been used in clinical settings. However, few studies have applied these approaches to develop the authors’ understanding of their use in social sciences. Therefore, this paper provides an original and unique insight into the use of these techniques in higher education.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The Centre of Business Excellence of the School of Economics and Business, the University of Ljubljana.

Citation

Lambert, S., Dimitriadis, N., Taylor, M. and Venerucci, M. (2021), "Understanding emotional empathy at postgraduate business programmes: what does the use of EEG reveal for future leaders?", Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning, Vol. 11 No. 5, pp. 1180-1191. https://doi.org/10.1108/HESWBL-09-2020-0218

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles