Empathy and Animals
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Animals and empathy

Animals and empathy | Empathy and Animals | Scoop.it
New research suggests that rats are capable of true empathy for their fellows, and a news report hints that at least one elk cares for the well-being of marmots.

 

Some research has suggested that some animals, including mice, may be able to experience “emotional contagion,” or the basic mirroring of another individual’s painful or pleasurable experiences. Mice may lick their own paws after seeing compatriots’ paws pricked by researchers’ needles, for example. But emotional contagion isn’t the same thing as empathy – it’s more a kind of a precursor or steppingstone to it. And until this December, no research had been published showing that animals such as mice or rats were capable of correctly understanding and reacting to the experiences of others, a common definition of true empathy.

 

That changed when University of Chicago neuroscientist Jean Decety and colleagues Peggy Mason and Inbal Bartal published the results of a study in Science magazine showing that rats were actually able to empathize with, and act to help, their fellows. 

 

by Connor Wood

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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
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Empathy and Animals Magazine

Empathy and Animals Magazine | Empathy and Animals | Scoop.it

Sponsored by Edwin Rutsch: Empathy Guide Services
Visit  http://cultureofempathy.com/Services/

These one-to-one empathy sessions support; well-being, healing, practicing to be a better listener and supporting you in creating empathic environments in your relationships, family, school, work, communities and beyond.


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grouchcustom's comment, April 4, 2017 3:13 AM
Nice
vasteynort's comment, May 19, 2017 12:34 AM
Cool
austerecarrion's comment, May 23, 2017 11:04 PM
Great
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Rats have empathy and avoid actions that can cause pain to fellow rodents | Daily

Rats have empathy and avoid actions that can cause pain to fellow rodents | Daily | Empathy and Animals | Scoop.it
  • Experts from the Netherlands presented rats with two treat-dispensing levers
  • They let them pick a favourite lever then made that one give another rat a shock
  • The rats would then change their preference to not harm their fellow rodent
  • Yet if the shocking lever gave out three treats, the rats became more selfish 
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Seattle Aquarium is hiring three full-time empathy fellows  

Seattle Aquarium is hiring three full-time empathy fellows   | Empathy and Animals | Scoop.it

Seattle Aquarium is hiring three full-time empathy fellows to join the community engagement (CE) team. Empathy fellows will have opportunities to learn about local marine life and conservation efforts, develop personal and professional goals, and become effective educators, facilitators and advocates for marine conservation, empathy and their communities. Fellows will culturally and linguistically reflect the community in which they will be working.  

Throughout the course of a year, as part of the grant-funded Expanding Empathy for our Marine Environment program, the empathy fellows will research, implement and present on individual empathy community action projects (ECAPs) in order to apply all that they have learned to a real-world marine-conservation-related issue that impacts themselves and their community.   

Empathy fellows will also support the marine education outreach programming the Community Engagement team provides to our Connections partners in the role of outreach educators, delivering empathy-based marine conservation programming within historically marginalized communities in the Salish Sea region. The empathy fellowship will begin in 2020 and follow a one-year cohort model with up to three fellows per year, with each fellow providing empathy programming within their communities.   

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For rats, empathy may be a survival strategy

For rats, empathy may be a survival strategy | Empathy and Animals | Scoop.it
Empathy is the ability to understand someone else's emotional experiences. Typically, we think of empathy as a noble quality that we relate to compassion.

However, a new study from the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience in Amsterdam suggests that for rats, being able to detect another's feelings may be a vital survival tool.

"What our data suggest is that an observer shares the emotions of others because it enables the observer to prepare for danger. It's not about helping the victim but about avoiding [becoming] a victim yourself."

Valeria Gazzola, senior author
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Origin of empathy: We feel each other's pain because it helps us avoid danger - NOT because we care | Daily

Origin of empathy: We feel each other's pain because it helps us avoid danger - NOT because we care | Daily | Empathy and Animals | Scoop.it

Rats were forced to watch as other rodents were electrocuted in front of them 
Analysis of how they responded revealed details about the origin of empathy
Found the key reason for feeling another's pain is actually self-preservation 

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How Training My German Shepherd Puppy Enhanced My Empathy Skills

How Training My German Shepherd Puppy Enhanced My Empathy Skills | Empathy and Animals | Scoop.it
Katja turned a year old on July 12, 2019. In the last year, I have re-learned the skill of empathy by reading her cues and learning that good dog ownership means engaging in self-care and ensuring that I make decisions not only for myself but for my family, including our puppy, Katja. This work allows me to better explain the concept of empathy and how, with a bit of training, empathy can be learned and practice for a more fulfilling life.
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Seeing Friends Disappointed Bums Us Out. The Same Might Be True for Ravens

Seeing Friends Disappointed Bums Us Out. The Same Might Be True for Ravens | Empathy and Animals | Scoop.it
Showing that non-human animals have empathy—the ability to understand and share the feelings of others—is no easy task. A big part of the challenge is obvious: Researchers can’t ask their subjects how they’re feeling, says Stephanie Preston, a neuroscientist studying emotion and behavior at the University of Michigan who was not involved in the study.

But some researchers argue that empathy can be broken down and tested through its more manageable components. For instance, you can’t have empathy without emotional contagion, or the tendency of the feelings and behaviors of an emotional reaction to hop from individual to individual even in the absence of what triggered them. Emotional contagion is, in a sense, a way to experience by proxy—and it can come with serious perks.

 

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Ravens Spread Negative Emotions to Their Friends, Study Finds - VICE

Ravens Spread Negative Emotions to Their Friends, Study Finds - VICE | Empathy and Animals | Scoop.it
“Emotional contagion, which refers to emotional state matching between individuals, is a powerful mechanism for information sharing and, as a consequence, an increased defense against predation and the facilitation of group living,” Adriaense and her colleagues wrote in the paper.

Ravens are already well-known for their advanced cognitive skills, and are often cast as intelligent spirits in cross-cultural myths and folklore. But in addition to inspiring admiration from humans, the new study reveals that ravens are clearly in tune with each others’ feelings—especially when they are miffed.
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Empathic birds

Empathic birds | Empathy and Animals | Scoop.it

Raven observers show emotional contagion with raven demonstrators experiencing an unpleasant affect"

To effectively navigate the social world, we need information about each other’s emotions. Emotional contagion has been suggested to facilitate such information transmission, constituting a basic building block of empathy that could also be present in non-human animals. Most animal studies have faced difficulties in measuring the emotional valence in contagion.

 

A collaboration between cognitive biologists and social neuroscientists at University of Vienna solves this problem by integrating behavioral and psychological methods. They show that ravens observing a conspecific in a negative emotional state subsequently perform in a pessimistic manner on a judgment task. The results of this study have been published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

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Canine Empathy: Your dog really does care if you are unhappy

Canine Empathy: Your dog really does care if you are unhappy | Empathy and Animals | Scoop.it
People often report that it seems their dogs are reading their emotional states and responding in much the same way a human would, offering sympathy and comfort when it is needed or joining in their joy when there is cause for celebration. Such was the case with Deborah, an acquaintance of mine who told me the following story.

 

Deborah had just gotten off the phone after learning that her sister's husband had died. Stunned by the news, she sat on the sofa and found herself wiping tears from her eyes while she tried to deal with her sadness. Deborah told me, “At that moment, Angus [her Golden Retriever] came over to me and laid his head on my knee and began to whimper.

 

A moment later he quietly walked away and then returned with one of his favourite toys and softly put it in my lap and then gently licked my hand. I knew he was trying to comfort me. I believe that he was feeling my pain and hoping that the toy, one which made him happy, might also help me to feel better.

 

By Stanley Coren

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Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience:  Rats Feel One Another’s Pain

Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience:  Rats Feel One Another’s Pain | Empathy and Animals | Scoop.it

Researchers from the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience have demonstrated that specific neurons in the rat brain are active both when a rat experiences pain itself and when it observes another rat in pain. The results, published today in Current Biology, suggest that sharing the emotions of others is a common mammalian trait.

Neuroimaging studies in humans show that a region called the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) is active both when we feel pain and when we witness the pain of others. This could mean that the ACC contains mirror neurons – cells that fire when we experience pain and also when we see the pain of others.

 

But we can’t test this theory in humans. Recording the activity of individual neurons in the human brain is not possible, nor can scientists modulate activity in the human ACC to determine whether the region is responsible for empathy.  

So neuroscientist Christian Keysers and his colleagues turned to rats.

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What Makes Us Empathic?  Do animals feel this emotional contagion as we do?  Christian Keysers -  Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience

What Makes Us Empathic?  Do animals feel this emotional contagion as we do?  Christian Keysers -  Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience | Empathy and Animals | Scoop.it
For a long time, people believed that empathy is a uniquely human sentiment that sets us apart as a more moral species. More recent observations chip away at this notion. Dramatic anecdotes surfaced of chimpanzees risking to drown in heroic attempts to rescue fellow chimpanzees in aquatic peril.

 

Studies showed rats, not known to be the most noble of moral beings, invest considerable effort to free fellow rats from a trap (see Do Rats Have Compassion). Indeed, emotions are contagious amongst rats: if one rat receives a mild, but startling electrical shock, it gets scared and freezes; it stops all movements. Rats do so to avoid being detected by the main danger their encounter: predators. What is fascinating is that rats that witness the fear of another rat have been observed also to freeze.

 

Somehow, the fear of one rat is transferred to other, nearby rats, just like we get nervous around nervous people. This observation paved the way to looking into the brains of humans and rats to see what mechanisms make emotions so travel from one individual to another, and understand if these mechanisms are similar across man and rat.

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Empathy: The Root of Our Human Morality.. Is Not of Human Origin

Empathy: The Root of Our Human Morality.. Is Not of Human Origin | Empathy and Animals | Scoop.it
Empathy... feeling what others feel.. the supreme quality of a human being and the root of human social morality... the essence of religion, ethics, conception of good and evil, of what's good and what's bad... What if I told you it is not of human origin, and humans are not the only ones to share it?
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Working a desk job could keep your mind agile later on in life

Working a desk job could keep your mind agile later on in life | Empathy and Animals | Scoop.it
The study started in 2011, when Peggy Mason, professor of neurobiology, found that rats consistently free their trapped companions, even giving up on a bit of chocolate for them. The empathy of rats has been demonstrated in several later studies, and it’s already a well established phenomenon.

But Mason also found that when rats are treated with anti-anxiety medication, they are less likely to free a trapped peer because they are less likely to feel its anxiety. In another study, researchers found that rats were hesitant to save strangers, and only freed trapped rats they were familiar with. Rat empathy is remarkably similar to human empathy, maybe in more ways than we’d like to admit.
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Fostering empathy for wildlife | Seattle Aquarium

Fostering empathy for wildlife | Seattle Aquarium | Empathy and Animals | Scoop.it
Research shows that encouraging and developing empathy for animals in children is an important motivator toward action on the animals’ behalf. Employing empathy framing allows visitors to see animals as unique individuals worthy of care and conservation.

 

Therefore, we’re working to enhance exhibits, develop curriculum and other teacher resources, offer empathy fellowships, hold biennial empathy conferences and design an innovative outreach vehicle to expand our empathy reach beyond the Aquarium. Staff at the Seattle Aquarium also offer empathy workshops around the country to help other aquariums and zoos incorporate empathic learning into their institutions.

RESOURCES 

 

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Animal Therapy Can Help Your Relationship With Humans

Animal Therapy Can Help Your Relationship With Humans | Empathy and Animals | Scoop.it

How this form of treatment can facilitate good relationships.

"How animal therapy improves human relationships

When you’re working with an animal and you’re learning to be empathetic for the creature, it can help you develop a heightened sense of empathy for other human beings as well. You remember how loving you are towards the animal and can transfer that to your friendships or other interpersonal relationships.

 

Animals are fully invested in their relationship with humans, so it offers a different form of companionship than that of which you’d have with other people. There’s no risk of being rejected with animals and they’re fully there to offer support, so you can practice your social skills when you work with your pet therapy animal without fearing rejection or other unpredictable responses. After doing animal therapy, your social skills and quality of life will improve."

jadipa's curator insight, June 21, 8:47 AM

 

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Empathy as a "Danger Antenna”

Empathy as a "Danger Antenna” | Empathy and Animals | Scoop.it
What can rats tell us about the evolution of empathy? Is it all about avoiding danger rather than helping others?

 

Most studies of empathy conceive of it as a one-way phenomenon in which an observer “catches” the emotions of another. But in real life, it’s more of an interactive process in which information flows in two directions.

 

“Emotions develop in a social loop,” says neuroscientist Christian Keysers, lead author of the new study. For instance, when a child falls down, the parent reacts—either calmly or in a panic. The child looks to the parent and, based on his or her reaction, she might stand up and brush herself off or start sobbing.

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Benefits of Pets for Kids: Responsibility, Empathy, and Anger Management

Benefits of Pets for Kids: Responsibility, Empathy, and Anger Management | Empathy and Animals | Scoop.it
There’s a Strong Correlation Between Increased Empathy Levels and Owning Pets
Arguably the greatest benefit of pets for kids is an increased empathy level in children who own pets. This is extremely important, especially in this day and age when it seems that there’s a growing intolerance among people. Luckily, there are some pretty effective ’cures’ and remedies for these conditions, and taking care of a pet from an early age impacts this hugely.
Petique's curator insight, October 25, 2019 7:01 PM
Amazing benefits of Pets for Kids: Responsibility, Empathy, and Anger Management 
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Does Owning Childhood Pets Improve Your Wellbeing:  "A sense of empathy for animals can also affect our empathy for one another."...

Does Owning Childhood Pets Improve Your Wellbeing:  "A sense of empathy for animals can also affect our empathy for one another."... | Empathy and Animals | Scoop.it

A sense of empathy for animals can also affect our empathy for one another.

"There's a little bit of information out there, with some of it showing that when children feel empathy for animals it can have positive effects for empathy with others," Burke said.

Burke is looking to recruit at least 1,000 participants in total across two studies, including one that looks at parents' and children's attitudes towards animals and another that surveys young adults about their childhood pets and human relationships.

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It's a conspiracy! Bad moods could be contagious among ravens and spread through their large groups  | Daily

It's a conspiracy! Bad moods could be contagious among ravens and spread through their large groups  | Daily | Empathy and Animals | Scoop.it
  • University of Vienna staff performed a cognitive bias test on the Gothic animals
  • Findings show that, like humans and primates, they possess emotional affinity
  • Report was featured in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

 

Pessimism is infectious among ravens.

That's the conclusion of researchers who studied the birds in a bid to observe their intelligence and empathy, earlier this month. 

Staff from the University of Vienna performed a cognitive bias test on the Gothic-looking animals, which monitored their reactions to neutral stimuli. 

The findings show that, like humans and primates, they possess a level of emotional affinity and awareness. 


By PETER LLOYD FOR MAILONLINE

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Empathic birds

Empathic birds | Empathy and Animals | Scoop.it

Raven observers show emotional contagion with raven demonstrators experiencing an unpleasant affect"

To effectively navigate the social world, we need information about each other’s emotions. Emotional contagion has been suggested to facilitate such information transmission, constituting a basic building block of empathy that could also be present in non-human animals. Most animal studies have faced difficulties in measuring the emotional valence in contagion.

 

A collaboration between cognitive biologists and social neuroscientists at University of Vienna solves this problem by integrating behavioral and psychological methods. They show that ravens observing a conspecific in a negative emotional state subsequently perform in a pessimistic manner on a judgment task. The results of this study have been published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

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Mirror neurons in rats reveal a capacity for empathy

Mirror neurons in rats reveal a capacity for empathy | Empathy and Animals | Scoop.it
  • A new study demonstrates that a rat will respond to another's pain.
  • Freezing in place as another rat is shocked is one of empathy's visible indicators.
  • The rats' mechanism for feeling the distress of others seems to be similar to our own.
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I feel you: Emotional mirror neurons found in the rat

I feel you: Emotional mirror neurons found in the rat | Empathy and Animals | Scoop.it

Summary: Study reports the anterior cingulate cortex of rats contain mirror neurons that respond to pain experienced by and observations of others.

 

Why is it that we can get sad when we see someone else crying? Why is it that we wince when a friend cuts his finger? Researchers from the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience have found that the rat brain activates the same cells when they observe the pain of others as when they experience pain themselves.

 

In addition, without the activity of these “mirror neurons”, the animals no longer share the pain of others. As many psychiatric disorders are characterized by a lack of empathy, finding the neural basis for sharing the emotions of others, and being able to modify how much an animal shares the emotions of others, is an exciting step towards understanding empathy and these disorders.

 

The findings will be published in the leading journal Current Biology on April 11th.

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I feel you: Emotional mirror neurons found in rats

I feel you: Emotional mirror neurons found in rats | Empathy and Animals | Scoop.it
Researchers from the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience have found that the rat brain activates the same cells when they observe the pain of others as when they experience pain themselves. In addition, without the activity of these mirror neurons, the animals no longer share the pain of others. Finding the neural basis for sharing the emotions of others is an exciting step toward understanding empathy.
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Sex, Empathy, Jealousy: How Emotions And Behavior Of Other Primates Mirror Our Own | WBFO

Sex, Empathy, Jealousy: How Emotions And Behavior Of Other Primates Mirror Our Own | WBFO | Empathy and Animals | Scoop.it
De Waal writes about primate empathy, rivalry, bonding, sex and murder in his new book, Mama's Last Hug. The title of the book was inspired by a tender interaction between a dying 59-year-old chimp named Mama and de Waal's mentor, Jan van Hooff, who had known Mama for more than 40 years.

"People were surprised [by] how humanlike the expression of Mama was and how humanlike her gestures were," de Waal says of the interaction. "I thought, 'Well, everyone knows that chimps are our closest relative, so why wouldn't the way they express their emotions be extremely similar to ours?' But people were surprised by that."

 

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Empathy Initiative - Woodland Park Zoo Seattle WA

Empathy Initiative - Woodland Park Zoo Seattle WA | Empathy and Animals | Scoop.it
To launch this project, Woodland Park Zoo is hosting a symposium January 22 - 24, 2019 in Seattle, WA to bring together experts in a range of topics (animal welfare, behavioral psychology, empathy, conservation) with representatives from zoos and aquariums from across the country.

The symposium will:
  1. Provide introduction and training to the previous work done by the Empathy Initiative,
  2. Facilitate discussion about animal welfare and the perception of welfare,
  3. Provide continuous learning for interested organizations.

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