Compassion fatigue: communication and burnout toward social problems

Kinnick, K.N., Krugman, D.M. & Cameron, G.T. (1996). Compassion fatigue: communication and burnout toward social problems. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 73(3), 687-707.

This study establishes the concept of compassion fatigue in relation to social problems. In order to measure this concept, the authors discuss different theories of emotional burnout by overexposure through the media. They describe the difference between the concepts of empathy and sympathy on the one side and compassion fatigue on the other. They also discuss the manifestation of compassion fatigue in feelings of powerlessness. To measure the existence of compassion fatigue in the sample of their survey study, the authors measures different variables, like the degree of emotional involvement to the issue and the amount of media usage of the respondent. Their conclusion is that the media are strongly associated with the phenomenon of compassion fatigue. This empirical study, as far as I know the only one, describes the deeper psychological process of compassion fatigue and the related contribution of the mass media. It is therefore a useful article for my thesis.