Sue Gerhardt provides a follow-up to the 60 Minutes "Born Good?" program, looking at the challenges in being empathetic outside of familiar social interaction.
Born Good? challenged the dominant cultural idea that we are born selfish and individualistic. But although it established that we are an innately social and co-operative species, it also hinted at our limitations. In another experiment shown in the programme, young children were clearly not interested in helping unknown (and unseen) strangers. Extending helpfulness to those beyond our in-group probably doesn’t come so naturally. So perhaps this alerts us to the need to actively promote empathy, with programmes such as Mary Gordon’s Roots of Empathy in schools (now spreading here to the UK).
Via Edwin Rutsch