Empathy can be learned by sharing positive experiences

A study by researchers at the University of Zurich indicates that empathy towards strangers can be learned and that positive experiences with others influence empathic brain responses.

According to a recent Swiss study, we are all capable of feeling empathy towards strangers. By repeating positive experiences with strangers, our brain learns and develops empathic responses.

To reach this conclusion, Grit Hein, a neuroscientist and psychologist, and his colleagues Philippe Tobler, Jan Engelmann and Marius Vollberg at the University of Zurich in Switzerland, measured brain activity in participants who had shared positive experiences with a member of their own social group (in-group member) or a group of strangers (out-group member).