Empathy originates in our brain; it’s something that is defined by our brain structure, and is unique for everyone. Researchers at the University of Vienna have published a new study that examines how we empathize for others in pain — and found that it relies on our own experiences of pain.
The study, led by psychologist Claus Lamm and his team of scientists from all over the world, examined 100 participants to further understand how empathy works on a neurobiological level. They used a method known as the placebo analgesia effect — a robust and tried-and-true way to study brain activity. Analgesia is the inability to feel pain; they found that when they induced pain analgesia in the participants, those same people saw a reduction in empathy for others in pain.
By Lecia Bushak