Babies will cry at the sound of another baby crying and can identify the difference between this and a computer-generated noise at the same volume or the cry of another species: say a chimpanzee.
Animals, such as rats or monkeys, react to others of their species expressing distress and psychologists suggest that we all may have evolved to find another’s distress unpleasant – even sometimes overwhelming. This is described as “emotional contagion” and may indicate a basic feeling of empathy but does not mean that we feel compassion.
We don’t necessarily care about a person but
we still can empathize: we can put ourselves
in that person’s shoes.