The Social Brain and Empathy

Class at University of Chicago
Jean Decety

The Social Brain and Empathy

The experience of empathy is a powerful interpersonal phenomenon and a necessary means of everyday social communication. It facilitates parental care of offspring. It enables us to live in groups and socialize. It paves the way for the development of moral reasoning and motivates prosocial behavior. Empathy is an essential cornerstone of the patient-doctor relationship. It is associated with better outcomes and fewer malpractice claims. For a very long time, empathy has been a focus of speculation in philosophy. But in the past decade, empathy research has blossomed into a vibrant and multidisciplinary field of study, which includes developmental psychology, evolutionary biology, social psychology, and affective social neuroscience