Social Interaction and the Role of Empathy in Information and Knowledge Management: A Literature Review.

Faye Miller, Jacob Wallis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article provides a general review of the literature on the nature and role of empathy in social interaction for information professionals working in a variety of information and knowledge environments. 'Relational agency' theory (Edwards, 2005) is used as a framework to re-conceptualise education for empathic social interaction between information professionals and their clients. Past, present and future issues relevant to empathic interaction in information and knowledge management are discussed in the context of three shifts identified from the literature, 1) the continued increase in communication channels, both physical and virtual, for reference, information and research services, 2) the transition from the information age to the conceptual age and 3) the growing need for understanding of the affective paradigm in the information and knowledge professions. Findings from the literature review on the relationships between empathy and information behaviour, social networking, knowledge management and information and knowledge services are presented. Findings are discussed in relation to the development of guidelines for the affective education and training of information and knowledge professionals and the potential use of virtual learning software such as Second Life in developing empathic communication skills.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)122-132
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Education for Library and Information Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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