Why do we empathize? Researchers take on new perspective

Humans have a compulsion to simulate the activities and behaviors of others in their social group, but why is that? The findings of a new study may change the way that we understand empathy and phenomena of emotional and behavioral contagion.

Empathy is a complex occurrence that researchers sometimes define as “feeling concern for others [and] sharing and comprehending their emotions, prompting motivation to help them.”

While empathy may not always come naturally, it is related to other phenomena that occur mechanically and are tied to mirroring other people’s behaviors or emotions.

Full story at Medical News Today

Why feeling empathy could lead former drug users to relapse

Empathy, the awareness of another’s feelings and emotions, is a key feature in normal social interactions. But new research from the University of Minnesota suggests that empathy can have detrimental effects on an individual — and can push former drug users to relapse.

A group of researchers, led by Dr. Jonathan Gewirtz, performed a series of experiments to analyze links between empathy, stress, and drug use. First, they used behavioral conditioning to train a group of mice to mimic drug-seeking behavior. The mice were initially placed in a two-sided compartment, where a neutral saline solution was administered on one side and a dose of morphine on the other. When the treatment was repeated over the course of several days, the mice started associating one side with the drug treatment.

Next, the group of mice received only saline injections in either compartment for two weeks to mimic a period of sobriety.

Full story at Science Daily

Do you really know how your partner feels?

When we’ve been in a relationship for a long time, we may think we’re pretty good at telling what our partner is feeling. Is that really the case, though?

In the book The Little Prince, author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry writes, “[W]e see well only with the heart,” as “the essential is invisible to the eyes.”

In this world view, we should rely on what our hearts, and not what our eyes, tell us to learn the truth about the world.

Full story at Medical News Today