(...) humans and other species seem to share basic reactions to inequity, which serves to sustain cooperation. We postulate that the basic emotional reactions and calculations underlying our sense of fairness are rooted in our primate background and offer a model that places these reactions in the context of cooperative relationships.
Evolution of responses to (un)fairness Sarah F. Brosnan1,*, Frans B. M. de Waal
Empathy and the Psychology of Literary ModernismMeghan Marie Hammond
Published by Edinburgh University Press
Recovers early psychology, a discipline that has often been neglected in favor of psychoanalysis, as a framework for literary modernismProvides a conceptual history of empathy that expands our understanding of the modernist worldGrants new insight into modernist technique by explaining how it relates to contemporaneous psychological and aesthetic theories on empathyPrompts a rethinking of empathy, a capacity that is as widely misunderstood as it is celebrated
Recent evidence suggests that there are two possible systems for empathy: a basic emotional contagion system and a more advanced cognitive perspective-taking system.
However, it is not clear whether these two systems are part of a single interacting empathy system or whether they are independent. Additionally, the neuroanatomical bases of these systems are largely unknown. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that emotional empathic abilities (involving the mirror neuron system) are distinct from those related to cognitive empathy and that the two depend on separate anatomical substrates.
Subjects with lesions in the ventromedial prefrontal (VM) or inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) cortices and two control groups were assessed with measures of empathy that incorporate both cognitive and affective dimensions. The findings reveal a remarkable behavioural and anatomic double dissociation between deficits in cognitive empathy (VM) and emotional empathy (IFG).
Furthermore, precise anatomical mapping of lesions revealed Brodmann area 44 to be critical for emotional empathy while areas 11 and 10 were found necessary for cognitive empathy. These findings are consistent with these cortices being different in terms of synaptic hierarchy and phylogenetic age.
The pattern of empathy deficits among patients with VM and IFG lesions represents a first direct evidence of a double dissociation between emotional and cognitive empathy using the lesion method.
In many fields, from healthcare to social policy, we are experiencing a renaissance when it comes to embracing the ‘messy’. ‘Systems thinking’ – where we learn to look beyond objects to embrace the relationships between them and the messy ‘whole’ they create – has seen significant advances in recent years, particularly in relation to how we can extend these concepts from the natural sciences to explore social problems, such as obesity, crime and tobacco control. Below, a real life story of what systems thinking can bring to public policy provided by Joseph A. Curtatone and Mark Esposito (and first shared on the LSE Impact Blog). For more on systems thinking check out ‘Systems Change‘ and ‘Thinking in Systems’.
For public officials, the law of unintended consequences should need no introduction. It would be hard to find a better example of that law at work than in what happened to Somerville, Massachusetts, after Interstate 93 and the McGrath Highway’s McCarthy Overpass were built through the heart of the Boston suburb decades ago.
The linear, engineering-based logic was simple: Highways free of traffic lights would eliminate traffic congestion for drivers heading in and out of Boston. But the impact on Somerville was complex, and the ensuing ripple effects were dynamic. Neighborhoods were cut off from one another. Numerous rail and trolley stops were eliminated. Economic development stymied. Air pollution led to higher rates of heart disease, asthma and other ailments among people living in the shadows of the highways. Somerville became less walkable and bikeable, contributing to rising childhood obesity rates.
Krishnagopal Dharani discusses The Biology of Thought, and the proposed molecular model for generation of thought right at the level of the neurons.
The Biology of Thought suggests a new molecular mechanism by which sensory neurons can convert external sensory stimuli into internal thoughts. The book presents an evidence-based analysis of current neurobiological concepts which leads us into some inescapable conclusions – ultimately proposing a novel molecular model for generation of thought right at the level of the neurons.
This work demonstrates how electrochemical events occurring at the neuron may interact with the molecular mechanisms to generate thoughts. In other words, the book lays out biological foundations to the generation of thought – for this reason titled, The Biology of Thought; the hitherto abstract thought is finally shown to have a solid physical origin in the neurons.
In a previous post, I asked, "How universal is empathy?" The question is tricky because empathy has three components:
1. pro-social behavior - willingness to help people out, hospitality to strangers, acts of compassion.
2. cognitive empathy - capacity to see things from another person's perspective and to understand how he or she feels.
3. affective or emotional empathy - capacity not only to understand how another person feels but also to experience those feelings involuntarily and to respond appropriately. Failure to help a person in distress can trigger a self-destructive sequence: anguish, depression, suicidal ideation.
Contagious yawning is a behaviour shared by chimpanzees, baboons, dogs and humans, and researchers said recently that wolves can do it too, suggesting that empathy among animals is a common trait.
Perhaps empathy is present in more species than previously thought, said lead author Teresa Romero, a researcher from the University of Tokyo. “In wolves, as well as in primates and dogs, yawning is contagious between individuals, especially those that are close associates,” Romero said.
“These results suggest that contagious yawning is a common ancestral trait shared by other mammals and that such ability reveals an emotional connection between individuals.”
Although human and animal behaviors are largely shaped by reinforcement and punishment, choices in social settings are also influenced by information about the knowledge and experience of other decision-makers. During competitive games, monkeys increased their payoffs by systematically deviating from a simple heuristic learning algorithm and thereby countering the predictable exploitation by their computer opponent. Neurons in the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC) signaled the animal’s recent choice and reward history that reflected the computer’s exploitative strategy. The strength of switching signals in the dmPFC also correlated with the animal’s tendency to deviate from the heuristic learning algorithm. Therefore, the dmPFC might provide control signals for overriding simple heuristic learning algorithms based on the inferred strategies of the opponent.
Neural correlates of strategic reasoning during competitive games Hyojung Seo, Xinying Cai, Christopher H. Donahue, Daeyeol Lee
Abstract There are several ways to incorporate evolutionary concepts into economic thinking. This article reviews the most important transfers of this kind into evolutionary economics. It broadly differentiates between approaches that draw on an analogy construction to the biological sphere, those that make metaphorical use of Darwinian ideas, and avenues that are based on the fact that other forms of – cultural – evolution rest upon foundations laid before by natural selection. It is shown that an evolutionary approach within economics informed by insights from cognitive science, evolutionary biology, and anthropology contributes to more realistic models of human behavior in economic contexts.
Public figures from President Obama to Neil deGrasse Tyson have suggested a lack of empathy is one of our species' fundamental problems.
"Empathy is about standing in someone else's shoes, feeling with his or her heart, seeing with his or her eyes," writes author and prominent business-world thinker Daniel Pink. "Not only is empathy hard to outsource and automate, but it makes the world a better place."
A lovely thought. But new research suggests it isn't always true.
A paper just published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin provides evidence that feelings of empathy toward a distressed person can inspire aggressive behavior.
For some people, at least, feeling another's pain is insufficient: You also experience the urge to harm the person they are in conflict or competition with.
In 1909, the psychologist Edward Titchener translated the German ‘Einfühlung’ (‘feeling into’) into English as ‘empathy’. At the time, German philosophers discussed empathy in the context of our aesthetic evaluation, but Titchener maintained that empathy also helps us to recognize one another as minded creatures.
Empathy can be defined as a person’s ability to recognize, feel, and share the emotions of another person, fictional character, or sentient being. It involves, first, seeing the other's condition or situation from her perspective; and, second, sharing her emotions, and, in some cases, also her distress.
Empathy is often confused with pity, sympathy, and compassion, which are all reactions to the plight of others.
Philosopher and neuroeconomist . He studied philosophy, economics and cognitive sciences in Milan, the London School of Economics and Carnegie Mellon University. He teaches a combination of these at San Raffaele. He currently lives in Santa Monica, California where he is conducting some new neuroeconomics experiments at UCLA. He is studying human irrationality and how we make (or are made to make) our decisions. He is director at The Center for Research in Experimental and Applied Epistemology (www.cresa.eu) on learning how to decide better. He has written books translated and appreciated around the world (Emotional Economics, Rizzoli 2006 and Cognitive Traps, Rizzoli, 2008). In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations)
Why are leaders corrupt? This question has teased and taunted researchers over the years; however, there is not much research that has examined this question using experimental designs that give real power to leaders in real-stakes situations. In this animated, fun, but also science-packed podcast, Prof. John Antonakis explains what he and his colleagues--Dr. Samuel Bendahan, Prof. Christian Zehnder, and Prof. François Pralong--found in two experimental studies. Both power (leader choice set and number of followers) and the person (baseline testosterone) caused corruption. The implications of this study are far reaching and should make individuals responsible for organizational governance mechanisms to pause and think about how much power and discretionary choices leaders should have.
Romantic notions of the link between mental illness and creativity still appear prominently in popular culture. But ever since scientists started formally investigating the link, there has been intense debate.
In this wonderful short video from NOVA’s series The Secret Life of Scientists and Engineers, Dr. Goodall considers how empathy for other animals brings us closer to our highest human potentiality:
“I was told you have to give them numbers because you've got to be objective as a scientist, and you mustn't empathize with your subjects and I feel this is where science has gone wrong. To have this coldness, this lack of empathy has enabled some scientist to do unethical behavior.
Moreover, why deny a perfectly respectable tool? I think those two are behaving like that because that’s how I would behave if I was in that situation, that’s empathy. Once you've worked out why you think they are doing that, then you can start testing that. Am I right? Is this a valid assumption or not? But it gives you the groundwork for asking questions,
I think empathy is really important and I think only when our clever brain and our human heart work together in harmony can we achieve our full potential. “