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Fri Apr 13, 2012, 01:26 AM

Politics May Get in the Way of Empathy, Research Shows

Politics May Get in the Way of Empathy, Research Shows
Study participants were less likely to feel for people who held different beliefs

THURSDAY, April 12 (HealthDay News) -- A new study finds that empathy -- the ability to understand and share someone else's feelings -- vanishes when people have different political views.

U.S. researchers asked the study participants to read a short story about a person -- either a Democrat or a Republican -- who went hiking in winter and got lost with no food, water or extra clothes. People who had the same politics as the fictional hiker felt empathy for the hiker, while those with opposing political views did not.

The study appears in the March issue of the journal Psychological Science.

http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/health_news_detail.asp?health_day=663444

8 replies, 1102 views

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Reply Politics May Get in the Way of Empathy, Research Shows (Original post)
WillParkinson Apr 2012 OP
flamingdem Apr 2012 #1
nadinbrzezinski Apr 2012 #2
provis99 Apr 2012 #3
dimbear Apr 2012 #4
limpyhobbler Apr 2012 #5
JFN1 Apr 2012 #6
sudopod Apr 2012 #7
JFN1 Apr 2012 #8

Response to WillParkinson (Original post)

Fri Apr 13, 2012, 01:29 AM

1. Too true

I have zero empathy for Republicans, it's a biological reaction I'm sure (barf).

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Response to WillParkinson (Original post)

Fri Apr 13, 2012, 01:33 AM

2. In other news water is wet

I am not surprised by this finding. I have empathy, but I also do not believe in team sports, aka politics, the way we play it.

And in the US we are one step away from something real ugly.

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Response to WillParkinson (Original post)

Fri Apr 13, 2012, 01:34 AM

3. so?

 

all it means is I have less empathy for evil people than good people.

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Response to WillParkinson (Original post)

Fri Apr 13, 2012, 01:41 AM

4. Republicans get lost so often. They don't believe in maps and always turn right. n/t

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Response to WillParkinson (Original post)

Fri Apr 13, 2012, 02:03 AM

5. It's simple evolution people

The bits of the human brain that govern empathy evolved to have us feel empathy towards those who were in the same family or tribe as ourselves, and to lack empathy towards members of other tribes. That's because humans and pre-humans whose brains worked like that were the ones who survived to have offspring. Tribal groupings were groups who worked together to compete for resources against other groups. Those who had empathy for people in other groups were killed off, and never had kids to pass on the genes for empathetic brains. Political parties/affiliations are modern-day groups of people that work together to compete for resources against other groups. The reaction of having empathy or not is still governed by the same bits of brain as it was thousands of years ago. If the brain's bits determine someone is not in our group, but in a competing group, empathy tends to disappear.

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Response to limpyhobbler (Reply #5)

Fri Apr 13, 2012, 02:27 AM

6. But one difference modern humans appear to have evolved

is empathy within a larger group, such as a nation, or even our entire species.

On 9-11, no one was talking about the victim's politics, and all except the totally unevolved felt empathy for those who died.

Same for fallen soldiers like Pat Tillmann.

And for a group of people in a life-or-death situation, like being trapped in a burning building, or a natural disaster - people typically don't ask political affiliation when working together for survival.

If aliens attacked the planet, the majority of Humanity would almost certainly shrug aside nationality and band together.

However - I wonder how empathy would play out if two opposing protest groups were at the epicenter of a major earthquake...would they help each other? Or would they refuse to help each other, and merely watch their opponents die?

Empathy is quite a bit more complex in practice than the study results would seem to indicate...

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Response to WillParkinson (Original post)

Fri Apr 13, 2012, 02:37 AM

7. The responses in this thread are disturbing.

We are better than this.

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Response to sudopod (Reply #7)

Fri Apr 13, 2012, 02:46 AM

8. No doubt.

But we are not the highly evolved species we so often claim to be/wish we were/could be...in practical terms, we're still pretty damned savage...

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