Feeling what someone else feels isn’t easy, but the brain is wired for it.
I shouldn’t give a hoot about how you feel — and you shouldn’t care about my feelings either. In a world in which survival and procreation are our greatest genetic imperatives, it has always paid to keep our eyes firmly focused on the prize — which is ourselves. But in a world in which we also depend for that survival (to say nothing of those procreative opportunities) on other people, we need a healthy dose of empathy too. For humans, that has always created behavioral tension.
By Jeffrey Kluger