Abstract This research presents the construct definition of empathy and sympathy based on prior research in German aesthetic psychology and English moral philosophy. The dichotomous constructs sustain the development of two scales -- IDME (Individual Differences in Media Empathy) and IDMS (Individual Differences in Media Sympathy) -- to measure differences in individuals' empathy/ sympathy responses to media dramas. The experimental findings demonstrate that empathy is the driving force in eliciting positive feelings about movies, but that sympathy plays an important role as a moderating variable. The research framework is multidisciplinary in that construct definition derived from the humanities disciplines of aesthetics and philosophy grounds empirical testing of individual differences in empathy/sympathy responses. Scales developed to test relationships between empathy/sympathy as responses to movie dramas are found to be valid and reliable. Results are interpreted in terms of positive responses to media dramas that persuade via emotions, and future research on negative consumer responses (unresponsiveness and voluntary control of responses) is suggested.