Humans are 'More Empathetic' when they are calm - Seeker's Thoughts

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Humans are 'More Empathetic' when they are calm


Human beings are certainly capable of being selfish, and cruel. On the contrary, the love and kindness is also a side of humans. So did you ever wonder, what made some humans more cruel than others? 
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 A quick scan of any daily newspaper quickly reveals numerous unkind, selfish, and heinous actions. The question is-- why don't we all engage in such self-serving behavior all the time? What is it that causes us to feel another's pain and respond with kindness?

According to the Researchers of the University of California – have found that it is possible to assess a person’s to feel empathy by studying their brain activity while they are resting rather than while they are engaged in specific tasks.

Empathy
Empathy involves the ability to emotionally understanding what another person is experiencing. Essentially, it is putting yourself in someone else’s position and feeling.
When you see another person suffering, you might be able to instantly envision yourself in the other person’s place and feel sympathy for what they are going through.
While people are generally pretty well-attuned to their own feelings and emotions, getting into someone else’s head can be a bit more difficult. The ability to feel empathy allows people to “walk a mile in another’s shoes,” so to speak. It permits people to understand the emotions that others are feeling.
For many, seeing another person in pain and responding with indifference or even outright hostility seems utterly incomprehensible. But the fact that some people do respond in such a way clearly demonstrates that empathy is not necessarily a universal response to the suffering of others.
                                        
Types of empathy
Affective empathy involves the ability to understand another person's emotions and respond appropriately. Such emotional understanding may lead to someone feeling concerned for another person's well-being, or it may lead to feelings of personal distress.
Somatic empathy involves having a sort of physical reaction in response to what someone else is experiencing. People sometimes physically experience what another person is feeling. When you see someone else feeling embarrassed, for example, you might start to blush or have an upset stomach.
Cognitive empathy involves being able to understand another person's mental state and what they might be thinking in response to the situation. This is related to what psychologists refer to as the theory of mind, or thinking about what other people are thinking.
Why people lack Empathy?
A few reasons why people sometimes lack empathy
They fall victim to cognitive biases. Sometimes the way people perceive the world around them is influenced by a number of cognitive biases. For example, people often attribute other people's failures to internal characteristics, while blaming their own shortcomings on external factors. These biases can make it difficult to see all the factors that contribute to a situation and make it less likely that people will be able to see a situation from the perspective of another.
People tend to dehumanize victims. Many also fall victim to the trap of thinking that people who are different from them also don't feel and behave the same as they do. This is particularly common in cases when other people are physically distant. When they watch reports of a disaster or conflict in a foreign land, people might be less likely to feel empathy if they think that those who are suffering are fundamentally different than they are.
People tend to blame the victims. Sometimes when another person has suffered through a terrible experience, people make the mistake of blaming the victim for his or her circumstances. This is the reason why victims of crimes are often asked what they might have done differently to prevent the crime. This tendency stems from the need to believe that the world is a fair and just place. People want to believe that people get what they deserve and deserve what they get — it fools them into thinking that such terrible things could never happen to them.

What are the findings of the study?
The findings of this study offer an alternative to people who may have difficulty filling out questionnaires, such as people with severe mental illness or autism.

“Assessing empathy is often the hardest in the populations that need it most”

According to one of the researchers Lacoboni – has long studied empathy in humans. His previous studies have involved testing empathy in people presented with moral dilemmas or watching someone in pain.
Researchers recruited 58 male and female participants ages 18 to 35.
Resting brain activity data were collected using functional magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, noninvasive technique for measuring and mapping brain activity through small changes in blood flow. Participants were told to let their minds wander while keeping their eyes still, by looking at a fixation cross on a black screen.


Afterward, the participants completed questionnaires designed to measure empathy.

They rated how statements such as – “ I often have tender, concerned feelings for people less fortunate than me” and “I sometimes try to understand my friends better by imaging how things look from their perspective” describe them on a five-point scale from “not well” to “very well.”
Researchers wanted to measure how accurately they could predict the participant’s empathic disposition, characterized as the willingness and ability to understand another’s situation, by analyzing the brain scans.
The predictions were made by looking into resting activity in a specific brain network that earlier studies demonstrated are important for empathy.
Researchers used a form of article intelligence called machine learning, which can pick up subtle patterns in data that more traditional data analyses might not.
Researchers found that even when not engaged directly in a task that involves empathy, brain activity within these networks can reveal people’s empathic disposition. The beauty of the study is that the MRI’s helped predict the results of each participant’s questionnaire.



How this research can be helpful?
The findings could help health care professionals better assess empathy in people with autism or schizophrenia, who may have difficulties filling out questionnaires or expressing emotion.
People with these conditions are thought to lack empathy. However, if we can demonstrate that their brains have the capability for empathy, we can work to improve it through training and the use of other therapies researchers stated.
The predictive power of machine learning algorithms like this one when applied to brain data, can also help to predict how well a given patient will respond to given intervention, helping them tailor optimal therapeutic strategies from the get-go.
The study adds to the growing body of research suggesting that brains at rest areas active brains engaged in a task, and that brain networks in the resting brain may interact in a similar fashion as when they are engaged in a task.
Why Empathy is important?
Empathy allows people to build social connections with others. By understanding what people are thinking and feeling, people are able to respond appropriately in social situations.
Empathizing with others helps you learn to regulate your own emotions. Emotional regulation is important in that it allows you to manage what you feel, even in times of great stress, without becoming overwhelmed.
Empathy promotes helping behaviors. Not only are you more likely to engage in helpful behaviors when you feel empathy for other people; other people are also more likely to help you when they experience empathy.
Refrence - Leonardo Christov-Moore, Nicco Reggente, Pamela K. Douglas, Jamie D. Feusner, Marco Iacoboni. Predicting Empathy From Resting State Brain Connectivity: A Multivariate Approach. Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience,
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