We can learn to empathize with strangers. Surprisingly positive experiences with people from another group trigger a learning effect in the brain, which increases empathy. As researchers from the University of Zurich reveal, only a handful of positive learning experiences already suffice for a person to become more empathic.
Conflicts between people from different nationalities and cultures often stem from a lack of empathy or compassion for “the stranger”. More empathy for members of other groups could thus encourage peaceful coexistence. A study conducted by the University of Zurich examined whether empathy with strangers can be learned and how positive experiences with others influence empathic brain responses.
Surprising behaviour influences learning
Psychologist and neuroscientist Grit Hein teamed up with Philippe Tobler, Jan Engelmann and Marius Vollberg to measure brain activation in participants who had had positive experiences with a member of their own group (in-group member) or another group (out-group member). During the test, the participants expected to receive painful shocks to the backs of their hands. However, they also discovered that a member of their own or another group could pay money to spare them pain. The brain activation while observing pain in a person from one’s own or another group was recorded before and after these experiences.
At the beginning of the study, the stranger’s pain triggered a weaker brain activation in the participant than if a member of his or her own group was affected. However, only a handful of positive experiences with someone from the stranger’s group led to a significant increase in empathic brain responses if pain was inflicted on a different person from the out-group. The stronger the positive experience with the stranger was, the greater was the increase in neuronal empathy.
The increased empathic brain response for the out-group is driven by a neuronal learning signal that develops through surprisingly positive experiences with a stranger. “These results reveal that positive experiences with a stranger are transferred to other members of this group and increase the empathy for them,” says Hein.
Read more: Empathy with strangers can be learned
The Latest on: Empathy
via Google News
The Latest on: Empathy
- Changing the dialogue: Free US exchange program aims to build empathy in face of polarizationon October 11, 2021 at 3:00 pm
The American Exchange Project is a free one-week exchange program for high school graduates that sends participants to a community that looks vastly different than any they know. Think rural and urban ...
- Novel by Silicon Valley Author Highlights Colorism Issues in Society; Suggests "Empathy Engineering" as a Solutionon October 11, 2021 at 10:05 am
Dr. Siddhartha "Sid" Chattopadhyay, author and Silicon Valley computer scientist, has announced the release of his compelling literary romance novel, The Empathy Engineer: A Colorless Love Story. Dr.
- The Back Road: Got empathy?on October 11, 2021 at 7:27 am
By Andrew Malekoff Whatever happened to one for all and all for one? Looking out for one another during the pandemic necessitates full participation in preventive measures. Yet that is ...
- OPINION | REVIEW: 'Life Is Strange: True Colors' illustrates power of empathyon October 10, 2021 at 11:59 pm
True Colors." The game is set in Colorado in a made-up town called Haven Springs, eerily similar to Colorado Springs, where I grew up. But according to the internet, and some educated guessing, Haven ...
- Can a CEO press an “Empathy” button?on October 10, 2021 at 2:41 am
As I read the Forbes insightful article; The new meaning of CEO Chief Empathy Officer, I felt empathy towards the CEOs! The tools shared in the article are great and I would like to add to them. Neuro ...
- Nikki Sixx talks new memoir 'The First 21,' the sister he never knew, and learning to 'maybe have some empathy' for his estranged fatheron October 8, 2021 at 7:17 pm
Motley Crüe bassist and primary songwriter Nikki Sixx is already the author or co-author of three explosive rock ‘n’ roll tell-alls — The Dirt, The Heroin Diaries, and This Is Gonna Hurt, all of which ...
- When Employers Express Empathy in the Workplace, Their Employees Are More Likely To Stick Aroundon October 8, 2021 at 12:04 pm
Empathy in the workplace makes for a more welcoming environment that keeps employees around for longer. Learn why it's so impactful.
- New PM Kishida vows to lead with ‘trust and empathy’ to restore Japan’s economyon October 8, 2021 at 10:06 am
In his first policy speech, new Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida promised Friday to strengthen the country's response to the coronavirus pandemic ...
- Hispanic Heritage Month: Neiman Marcus Exec Tatiana Ferreira on Why Leaders Must Have Empathy to Empower People of Coloron October 8, 2021 at 9:38 am
"From a personal perspective, there've been many instances when others wouldn't stick up for something that was really important to me," said Ferreira. "So I promised myself that I once I became a ...
- Kishida vows to lead with ‘trust and empathy’ to fix Japanon October 7, 2021 at 11:06 pm
In his first policy speech Friday, Japan’s new Prime Minister Fumio Kishida promised to strengthen pandemic management and health care in case of another coronavirus resurgence, and turn around the ...
via Bing News