Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Empathy and class

The depiction of the rich and cold-hearted Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens classic “A Christmas Carol” is backed up with scientific evidence, according to researchers at the University of California at Berkeley.
The researchers found that people in lower socio-economic classes are more physiologically attuned to the suffering of others than their middle- and upper-class counterparts.
“It’s not that the upper-classes are coldhearted,” UC Berkeley social psychologist Jennifer Stellar, lead author of the study published the journal Emotion, explained. “They may just not be as adept at recognizing the cues and signals of suffering because they haven’t had to deal with as many obstacles in their lives.”

The study was based on three experiments conducted on more than 300 ethnically diverse young adults.
Read the rest at Raw Story
Rich people less empathetic than the poor: study
by Eric W. Dolan

Those pesky mirror neurons
“One clear policy implication is, the idea of nobless oblige or trickle-down economics, certain versions of it, is bull,” Keltner said. “Our data say you cannot rely on the wealthy to give back. The ‘thousand points of light’—this rise of compassion in the wealthy to fix all the problems of society—is improbable, psychologically.”


Anonymous said...

Gee UC Berkeley study. Why am I not surprised at the results?

Tom Hickey said...

For what it is worth Anonymous, I have verified this anecdotally. I have lived long enough to see people down, up, down, up, and up, down, up, down, and the prediction holds up surprisingly well in many cases. Moreover, the transition doesn't take long at all. Frankly, I have often been surprised at it.

Kevin Fathi said...

you should read this blog post from gin and tacos: http://www.ginandtacos.com/2011/12/01/character-rehabilitation/