Nov 17 2009

Empathy: Will a Monkey In A Research Project Pull A Chain To Get Food Or Starve Himself Because Pulling The Chain Also Causes Another Monkey To Experience Electric Shocks?

Monkeys like to eat and drink like the rest of us, but the research results about the power of empathy are fascinating.

The monkeys starve themselves rather than subject other monkeys to experience the pain of electric shock.

Pretty remarkable and says a lot about why children go to great lengths to “please” their parents and families so early in life, especially if the parent is in some type of pain.

In their article, pubished online here, “Empathy: Its ultimate and proximate bases,” Stephanie Preston and Frans De Wall describe the research detailing the biological basis for empathy.

Humans, like other mammals, are hardwired to respond to other conspecific’s (same species) pain.

The authors offer a biological explanation of empathy, called the Perception-Action Model (p4), which states that “the attended perception of the object’s (person/entity) being observed) state automatically primes or generates the autonomic or somatic responses, unless unhibited.”

So, the monkey or human infant (subject) after about one years of age, has a biologically driven response to viewing the pain or emotional experiences of others (object).

Think about what this means to children growing up in very vulnerable families with mentally ill,  substance abusing or just plain unhappy parents…

No responses yet

Trackback URI | Comments RSS

Leave a Reply