This post originally appeared at LinkedIn. Follow the author here. Toxic people defy logic. Some are blissfully unaware of the negative impact that they have on those around them, and others seem to derive satisfaction from creating chaos and pushing other people’s buttons. Either way, they create unnecessary complexity, strife, and worst of all, stress....
Drinking this could reduce your brain age twenty years in just three months.Cocoa flavanoids — like those contained in a cup of cocoa — can reverse age-related memory loss in older adults, a new study finds. This is the first direct evidence that an important component of memory decline that comes with age can be improved with a simple dietary change. Typically, normal age-related memory declines are noticeable to people in their fifties and sixties: things like forgetting where the keys are or having trouble recalling a name or word. These changes are much less severe than those which typically occur as a result of devastating dementias like Alzheimer’s disease.
Just out these days, our recent paper in the journal Social Neuroscience is about how empathy can drive choices in social dilemmas. In this study, we use both behavioural economics and fMRI scanning to explore how individual differences in empathic ability can affect social behaviours.
This is described in the abstract:
Empathy was related to specific engagement of the mentalising network of the brain.
“Decision-making in social dilemmas is suggested to rely on three factors: the valuation of a choice option, the relative judgment of two or more choice alternatives, and individual factors affecting the ease at which judgments and decisions are made. Here, we test whether empathy—an individual’s relative ability to understand others’ thoughts, emotions, and intentions—acts as an individual factor that alleviates conflict resolution in social decision-making. We test this by using a framed, iterated prisoners’ dilemma (PD) game in two settings. In a behavioral experiment, we find that individual differences in empathic ability (the Empathy Quotient, EQ) were related to lower response times in the PD game, suggesting that empathy is related to faster social choices, independent of whether they choose to cooperate or defect. In a subsequent neuroimaging experiment, using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we find that EQ is positively related to individual differences in the engagement of brain structures implemented in mentalizing, including the precuneus, superior temporal sulcus, and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. These results suggest that empathy is related to the individual difference in the engagement of mentalizing in social dilemmas and that this is related to the efficiency of decision-making in social dilemmas.”
(...) 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.
What impact is behavioural science having on politics and business? Simplified disclosure, default rules, social norms, and ‘choice architecture’ are all being used to steer people in specific directions. Are these ‘nudges’ improving our decisions? Are they offsetting irrational behaviour? Cass Sunstein, author of Nudge and the previous Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Obama administration will discuss these new policies and the question they raise about freedom of choice.
Cass Sunstein (@CassSunstein) is the Robert Walmsley University Professor at Harvard Law School.
Social Media has rapidly grown in importance as a forum for political activism in its different forms. Social media platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube provide new ways to stimulate citizen engagement in political life, where elections and electoral campaigns have a central role.
Although the presence of social media is spreading and media use patterns are changing, online political engagement is largely restricted to people already active in politics and on the Internet. Other audiences are less responsive. For example, television news together with print and online newspapers are still the most important sources of political information in most EU Member States.
Social media has reshaped structures and methods of contemporary political communication by influencing the way politicians interact with citizens and each other. However, the role of this phenomenon in increasing political engagement and electoral participation is neither clear nor simple. The upcoming European Parliament elections in May will give an indication of the impact of social media in European wide elections with national and European dimension
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.