John Murray has acquired The Empathy Instinct: A Blueprint For a Civil Society by Peter Bazalgette, chair of Arts Council England.
Bazalgette's "ideal guide to the subject" promises "an agenda-setting and eye-opening book that will shape the way we all approach this extraordinarily beneficial force".
The book will bring together neurobiological and scientific findings, the latest in clinical psychology and evolutionary science, up-to-date thinking on gender, race, philosophy, sociology, the law and culture – and by looking at areas such as parenting, online radicalisation and cyber bullying.
The book follows president Barack Obama's comments in 2006 that we are going to have to talk more about, what he termed, "The Empathy Deficit".
Bazalgette, who will stand down as chair of Arts Council England when his term is up in 2017, has had to learn about how arts, culture and storytelling inform and exercise our instinct for empathy, as part of his job. He became further interested in the subject when he was asked by the prime minister David Cameron to chair the Holocaust Memorial Foundation. While studying Nazi Germany, he understood what a lack of empathy could do to a society, Bazalgette said.
Roland Philipps bought world rights from Kate Barker at Chartwell Speakers & Literary Agency.
Philipps said: "Peter Bazalgette makes a compelling case for empathy being essential across every area of our lives, in government, in society, in the home and in our individual happiness. He brings together a range of interests and research to create an important and agenda-setting (as well as a thoroughly entertaining) book."
Bazalgette has written several books and policy papers about media and the arts, and produced numerous TV shows: Big Brother, Deal or No Deal, Who Wants to be a Millionaire, among others. He said: "I suddenly realised I was looking at societies without empathy wearing one hat, and its promotion via the arts wearing another. Then I discovered how our knowledge of this human gift has recently been revolutionised. There's so much we can do with these extraordinary insights."
John Murray will publish The Empathy Instinct in January 2017.