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AEMS Constructs

Empathy

The ability and willingness to care, feel, and take the perspective of others.

Empathy has been mostly studied in the developmental psychology field, scholars such as Davis (1994) emphasize both cognitive and affective perspectives of empathy. Many cognitive theorists argue that empathy is grounded in social understanding, whereas moral and philosophical theorists suggest that empathy refers to an individual’s sympathetic response to others’ suffering (Zahavi & Overgaard, 2012) and deliberate effort to understand, communicate, take up and act based on others’ perspectives (Gair 2011; Hojat 2007).

Forgiveness

The ability and willingness to let go of the hard feelings and the need to take revenge against someone who has wronged me or committed a perceived injustice against me or others.

Forgiveness is a broad construct and a subjective concept which is perceived differently by individuals from different cultures or contexts. Enright and Gassin (1992) defined forgiveness as the “willingness to abandon one’s right to resentment, negative judgment, and indifferent behavior toward one who unjustly hurt us, while fostering the undeserved qualities of compassion, generosity, and even love towards him or her” (p. 102). Nasser, Abu-Nimer and Mahmoud (2014) suggest that forgiveness is a personal decision that originates from intrinsic motivation to let go. Forgiveness education promotes understanding of different perspectives and reduces stereotypes (Abu-Nimer, 1999).

Moral reasoning

The ability and willingness to make determinations about right and wrong and act on those.

Moral reasoning is the ability to determine wrong and right and to make ethical decisions based on that understanding when facing an ethical dilemma (Rest, 1984). Classical theorists suggest that individuals develop the highest level of moral reasoning when they make decisions based on ethical principles without considering their own interests and/or benefits (Wells & Schminke, 2001). Research in the field of moral reasoning and its relationship with other constructs is sparse in Muslim societies (Teymoori, Heydari, Nasiri, 2014). Professional ethics programs and trainings can promote moral reasoning by enhancing individuals’ knowledge in how to behave ethically when facing an ethical dilemma (Jones, 2009).

Community Mindedness

Seeing the self as interconnected to and acting for the benefit of an inclusive whole.

Each community has its unique needs and characteristics. To promote community mindedness, development of a framework which considers different perspectives and ideas to enhance collaborative thinking and positive interaction among the community members is necessary. Developing this framework needs to be accomplished by community leaders and scholars who are willing to utilize critical thinking and problem-solving skills and are willing to be open-minded and collaborative with different groups of a community. Service in community agencies and organizations is one way of introducing youths to their community and giving them the opportunity of understanding their community’s needs. This promotes community mindedness and results in youths’ engagement. Consequently, this can advance their sense of belonging to a greater community (McIntosh, Metz, & Youniss, 2005).