An injured rat helps us understand the struggle between empathy and disgust
Evolutionary theorists believe that many of our behaviors are adaptive in some way. "Empathy probably started out as a mechanism to improve maternal care," saysFrans de Waal, a primatologist at Emory University and author of The Age of Empathy. "Mammalian mothers who were attentive to their young’s needs were more likely to rear successful offspring."
These offspring were, in turn, more likely to reproduce, so being able to sense another’s feelings was beneficial because it helped mammals to pass on their genes—the ultimate prize in the game of life. Mammalian males also show empathy, de Waal says, because “the mechanism spread from mother-offspring to other relations, including friends."
By Arielle Duhaime-Ross
Via Edwin Rutsch