How Empathy Leads To Aggression

Scientists conducted experiments to understand why feelings of empathy lead to aggression for loved ones and even for strangers.

We all love watching our superheroes protect the weak and oppressed. Their need to protect obviously comes from the hugely empathetic nature that they possess.

But if empathy means eliciting compassion and spreading warmth, then why do our superheroes get violent with aggressors? Why doesn’t Batman take the Joker to a psychologist to sort out his issues rather than beat the crap out of him?

The answer, according to a study by researchers from State University of New York at Buffalo, is because of a neurological link between empathy and aggression. The study, published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, while attempting to assess the role of neurohormones in connecting empathy and aggression, also checks if assessed or elicited empathy would make a person aggressive on behalf of the vulnerable other.

By Shweta Iyer