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Empathy and Animals
International News and Information about Empathy and Compassion with, by and for Animals - for more see: CultureOfEmpathy.com
Curated by Edwin Rutsch
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Chimp Research Ties Yawning to Empathy

Ever wonder why yawns are contagious? Humans can catch yawns from other people, and so do a few other species. Discover Magazine reports on new research saying empathy is behind it all. "Chimpanzees, like people, can 'catch' yawns from others. But not all yawns are created equal, it seems; chimps are more likely to catch yawns from a chimp they know than from a stranger, a new study found."
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Chimps' contagious yawning a sign of empathy, not just sleepiness

Chimps' contagious yawning a sign of empathy, not just sleepiness | Empathy and Animals | Scoop.it
"The idea is that yawns are contagious for the same reason that smiles, frowns and other facial expressions are contagious," they said. "Our results support the idea that contagious yawning can be used as a measure of empathy, because the biases we observed were similar to empathy biases previously seen in humans."
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Contagious Chimp Yawns Seem to Point to Human-Like Empathy | Discover Magazine

Contagious Chimp Yawns Seem to Point to Human-Like Empathy | Discover Magazine | Empathy and Animals | Scoop.it
Chimpanzees, like people, can “catch” yawns from others. But not all yawns are created equal, it seems; chimps are more likely to catch yawns from a chimp they know than from a stranger, a new study found. (You can see a video of it here.) This supports the idea that it’s empathy—rather than just everybody needing a nap—that makes yawns contagious.
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Video: Contagious yawning in empathic chimpanzees

Six adult female chimpanzees were shown video scenes of chimpanzees repeatedly yawning or of chimpanzees showing open-mouth facial expressions that were not yawns. Two out of the six females showed significantly higher frequencies of yawning in response to yawn videos; no chimpanzees showed the inverse.
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Chimpanzees' contagious yawning evidence of empathy, not just sleepiness, study shows

Chimpanzees' contagious yawning evidence of empathy, not just sleepiness, study shows | Empathy and Animals | Scoop.it
Contagious yawning is not just a marker of sleepiness or boredom. For chimpanzees, it may actually be a sign of a social connection between individuals... "The idea is that yawns are contagious for the same reason that smiles, frowns and other facial expressions are contagious," they write. "Our results support the idea that contagious yawning can be used as a measure of empathy, because the biases we observed were similar to empathy biases previously seen in humans."
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BBC - Earth News - Chimpanzees 'catch' contagious yawns from friends

BBC - Earth News - Chimpanzees 'catch' contagious yawns from friends | Empathy and Animals | Scoop.it
Dr Matthew Campbell and Dr Frans de Waal showed the footage to 23 adult chimpanzees, which had been raised in two separate groups. Each animal viewed several nine-second video clips of other chimpanzees either yawning or doing something else. They yawned 50% more frequently in response to seeing members of their group yawn compared with seeing others yawn. The findings suggest that contagious yawning is a good empirical measure of empathy.
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Empathy and Reciprocity in Animals

Empathy and Reciprocity in Animals | Empathy and Animals | Scoop.it
We've often come across these stories, as well as analysis of the similarities between animals and humans when it comes to empathy and reciprocity (especially in evolutionary terms, and especially in dealing with primates), but I personally never get tired of reading them.
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Empathy’s for the Dogs - Yawn, and so will your dog.

Empathy’s for the Dogs - Yawn, and so will your dog. | Empathy and Animals | Scoop.it
A recent study published in the journal Biology Letters found dogs yawn when humans do, suggesting that canines may have the capacity for empathy. In their experiment, researchers from the University of London yawned at 29 dogs. Seventy-two percent yawned back—a higher frequency than humans, who typically yawn back 45 to 60 percent of the time.
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Empathy Buddies - Otters holding hands

Vancouver Aquarium: two sea otters float around, napping, holding hands.
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Animals Teach Children Empathy and Compassion

Animals Teach Children Empathy and Compassion | Empathy and Animals | Scoop.it
Research around the world demonstrates the tremendous benefits of owning a pet. Studies show that children who own pets have more empathy and nurturing ability, and as they grow into adulthood, essential skills to develop meaningful relationships.
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Teaching Kids to Have Empathy for Animals

Teaching Kids to Have Empathy for Animals | Empathy and Animals | Scoop.it
The article also discusses how people come to have empathy, and it turns out it is a combination of our experiences, what we see, and what we are taught, among other things. It is important to teach empathy to our children. There are ways we can go about doing this. Here are several I came up with:
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Empathy and Dangling Frogs

Empathy and Dangling Frogs | Empathy and Animals | Scoop.it
How children treat animals is usually how they treat other people. Teach your child to have empathy and respect for all living things. Empathy and respect are taught life skills. How you treat animals is usually how you treat other living things.
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Does Animal Behavior Reveal Emotions like Empathy?

Does Animal Behavior Reveal Emotions like Empathy? | Empathy and Animals | Scoop.it
The notion that animals are incapable of feelings is being revised by new observations of animal behavior that reveal emotions like empathy.
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Hugging benefits fractious chimps | BBC

Hugging benefits fractious chimps | BBC | Empathy and Animals | Scoop.it
If you have just had a big falling out with a colleague, there is nothing better than the comforting and consoling arm of a good friend.

If these chimpanzees are actually motivated by empathy to console victims of aggression, they must first of all be able to recognize that the victim is distressed and then they must know what to do in order to act appropriately to respond to this distress," said Dr Fraser.
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Video: Tracing the Origins of Human Empathy - WSJ.com

Video: Tracing the Origins of Human Empathy - WSJ.com | Empathy and Animals | Scoop.it
Pioneer in primate studies, Frans de Waal sees our better side in chimps, especially our capacity for empathy. In his research, Dr. de Waal has gathered ample evidence that our ability to identify with another's distress -- a catalyst for compassion and charity -- has deep roots in the origin of our species. It is a view independently reinforced by recent biomedical studies showing that our brains are built to feel another's pain.
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Video - Monkey See, Monkey Yawn: Hard-Wired for Empathy - WSJ.com

Video - Monkey See, Monkey Yawn: Hard-Wired for Empathy - WSJ.com | Empathy and Animals | Scoop.it
Though still a mystery, most people yawn reflexively when someone else does. One scientist studying chimps says catching a yawn is related to empathy. It's a human sentiment Columbia University's Kevin Ochsner says we're hard-wired to feel.
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The Evolution of Empathy

The Evolution of Empathy | Empathy and Animals | Scoop.it
We tend to think of empathy as a uniquely human trait. But it’s something apes and other animals demonstrate as well, says primatologist Frans de Waal. He shows how our evolutionary history suggests a deep-rooted propensity for feeling the emotions of others.

Empathy is second nature to us, so much so that anyone devoid of it strikes us as dangerous or mentally ill.
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Sleepy or Empathetic: What Does Yawning Mean? : The Thoughtful Animal

Sleepy or Empathetic: What Does Yawning Mean? : The Thoughtful Animal | Empathy and Animals | Scoop.it
You know that old phrase, "monkey see, monkey do"? Well, there might be something to it, except that chimpanzees aren't monkeys. (Sadly, "ape see, ape do" just doesn't have the same ring to it.) A new paper published today in PLoS ONE has found evidence that chimpanzees have contagious yawning - that is, they can "catch" yawns from watching other chimpanzees yawning - but (and here's the interesting part) only when the chimp that they're watching is a friend.
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The path to empathy

The path to empathy | Empathy and Animals | Scoop.it
A study done at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center by Campbell and de Waal (2011) has found a link between social groups and empathy in chimpanzees as demonstrated by involuntary yawning responses.

The study is based on the psychological concept of ingroups and outgroups. In humans ingroups are those we see as similar to ourselves and outgroups are those we perceive as different.

Biases involved in ingroup-outgroup discrimination in know to even extend to involuntary responses which includes empathy for pain. This has never been tested in other animals though.
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The Evolution of Nice: Criticisms of the “Selfish Gene” : Science & Religion Today

The Evolution of Nice: Criticisms of the “Selfish Gene” : Science & Religion Today | Empathy and Animals | Scoop.it
Most people reading this blog will have heard of the “selfish gene”—the idea, formally defined by W.D. Hamilton and popularized by Richard Dawkins, that what matters from the perspective of evolution is not organisms, but genes. Those genes that maximize their chances of survival—regardless of what happens to individuals—will be the ones that come to predominate.
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Sleepy or Empathetic: What Does Yawning Mean? : The Thoughtful Animal

Sleepy or Empathetic: What Does Yawning Mean? : The Thoughtful Animal | Empathy and Animals | Scoop.it
So far, contagious yawning has been observed in five mammals: humans, chimpanzees, stumptail macaques, gelada baboons, and domesticated dogs, though the interpretation of the data has been inconsistent. There is still no consensus on the function of contagious yawning, or even whether it exists in the first place.

But now, Matthew W. Campbell and Frans de Waal of the Yerkes National Primate Research Center at Emory University have proposed a more nuanced view of contagious yawning. They wondered if social group membership could affect the transmission of a contagious yawn. After all, if empathy is indeed the thing underlying contagious yawning, then contagious yawning should show many of the same behavioral signatures that empathy itself does.
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Teaching Kids Compassion Toward Animals - Empathy Training Prevents Violence

Teaching Kids Compassion Toward Animals - Empathy Training Prevents Violence | Empathy and Animals | Scoop.it
Decades of evidence show that a child's attitude toward animals can predict future behavior. According to published reports, in every highly publicized school shooting, one warning sign appeared consistently: All the young killers abused or killed animals before turning on their classmates.
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Dog stories that develop compassion and empathy

Dog stories that develop compassion and empathy | Empathy and Animals | Scoop.it
Developing compassion and empathy in all people is critically important, and something we need sorely. In our present world riddled with sarcasm, greed, hate, deceit, a sense of entitlement and self-centeredness, compassion and empathy are things that seem to be slipping away.
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Scientists Claim Chickens Feel Compassion | FriendsEAT.com

Scientists Claim Chickens Feel Compassion  | FriendsEAT.com | Empathy and Animals | Scoop.it
A recent study concludes domestic chickens display signs of empathy — the act of understanding and entering into another’s feelings.

These findings are particularly significant in view of the deeply criminal treatment animals receive on factory farms daily, which has been exposed in numerous published accounts and films like Farm to Fridge, narrated by actor James Cromwell.

The study was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Research Council’s Animal Welfare Initiative, whose findings were released this month in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
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The Empathetic Horseman Part I | TheFencePost.com

The Empathetic Horseman Part I | TheFencePost.com | Empathy and Animals | Scoop.it
In today's world where there is much suffering and fear, I think empathy is in short supply. What exactly is empathy? Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary offers this definition: “... the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner ...”
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