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Mediating Empathy for Gig Workers

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The digitization of services and global lock-downs have led an explosion of delivery services, which use gig-workers as delivery personnel. They can face apathy from both their employers and users of the service. Previous studies focused on mediating interactions between workers or workers and tasks. However, delivery presents the opportunity for HCI interventions to mediate the interaction between worker and users to increase their empathy. We conducted an empirical study where 63 participants ordered a drink with an app which presented a different level of information about the delivery person (nothing; name and photo; heart rate). Initial results show no significant impact on empathy measures between conditions, however post-hoc analysis showed that heart rate lead to increased Compassionate and decreased Affective empathy. This raises the question of what "type"of empathy is beneficial for delivery personnel and the need to refine the concept and measures of empathy used in HCI.