Two different types of empathy can be seen operating in the brain, a new study finds.
The two types are emotional empathy and rational empathy.
- Emotional empathy is when you feel someone else’s emotions yourself.
- Rational empathy is when you try to understand someone else’s emotions intellectually.
Mr Robert Eres, who led the study, said:
- “People who are high on affective [or emotional] empathy are often those who get quite fearful when watching a scary movie, or start crying during a sad scene.
- Those who have high cognitive empathy are those who are more rational, for example a clinical psychologist counselling a client.”
Researchers found that people with higher gray matter density in the insula — an area important for the emotions — displayed more emotional empathy.