User Tag List

12 Last

Results 1 to 10 of 11

  1. #1
    Symbolic Herald Vasilisa's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Posts
    4,128

    Default The science of heartlessness

    The science of heartlessness
    Why are some people more -- or less -- sympathetic to others' pain?
    Recent studies may have some answers

    Salon.com
    By Hannah Holmes
    Feb 17, 2011

    Excerpt:

    We've all encountered people with such divergent attitudes toward suffering -- and it often brings up a rather prickly question: Why are some of us bleeding hearts while others have hearts of stone? Science actually provides us with a number of clues.

    A Dutch team, for example, has looked at how oxytocin, a hormone frequently associated with female reproduction, influences parenting styles. Dutch scientists watched as a bunch of mothers interacted with their two-year-old children, who were trying to solve a difficult puzzle. Some mothers were patient and helpful; others were not. And the not-so-helpful mothers were more likely to carry a particular version of the oxytocin receptor gene: Their "mommy chemical" system may have been set just a tad to the selfish side, slightly blinding them to the emotions of their children.

    Now further studies are finding that oxytocin can increase the amount of money people will donate to a charity. One study in particular lent credence to the time honored method charities use to pull money from magazine readers: Feature a woebegone child in your advertisement. In the study, researchers had subjects watch a tearjerker film of a father talking about his son's brain tumor. They sampled subjects' blood before and after the film. Following the film the blood was awash in oxytocin, and their donations to charity rose 47 percent, compared to those of subjects who saw a film of the same father talking about a trip to the zoo. The tearjerker technique was more effective on women than men. Experiments wherein people sniff oxytocin to bolster the chemical in their brain show that the chemical may work in two ways. It may operate first by dampening our natural fear of one another. Oxytocin is very active in the amygdala, which monitors the world for danger. Extra oxytocin fights fear. Then, with that terror out of the way, perhaps it's easier to read another person's emotions and relate to them. People dosed with oxytocin make more direct eye contact, and they are better at describing the emotions portrayed on another's face. So extra oxytocin also helps us to empathize.

    But humans have access to another brain system that raises sympathy, too. When you stick out your tongue at a baby, the baby will often stick its tongue out automatically. The motor region of the baby's brain is mirroring your own motor region. Our emotional regions also have a system that helps us to mirror another's feelings.


    <full story>
    the formless thing which gives things form!
    Found Forum Haiku Project


    Positive Spin | your feedback welcomed | Darker Criticism

  2. #2
    not to be trusted miss fortune's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Enneagram
    827 sp/so
    Posts
    20,121

    Default

    hmmm... wonder if this has anything to do with the thought that the relative anonymity of the internet unleashing some people's inner troll If you can't see them to mirror them or identify with them sympathy is MORE difficult?
    “Oh, we're always alright. You remember that. We happen to other people.” -Terry Pratchett

  3. #3
    Senior Member mochajava's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    MBTI
    INFJ
    Posts
    478

    Default

    Wonderful find, Vasalisa. I want to read the "Quirk" book now and start measuring the oxytocin levels of everyone around me The gender divide is totally believable. Women donate more to charity and are more likely to enroll as subjects for vaccine trials. Whether that's socialization or genetics, I don't know.

    Interesting that we fear each other less too. I wonder if that finding could be applied somehow.

  4. #4
    nee andante bechimo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    8,022

    Default

    While the scientific findings are interesting, the behavioural conclusions appear to be emotionally driven and skewed. For example, have you never over-ridden emotional output by applying objective thinking?

  5. #5
    ThatGirl
    Guest

    Default

    I've heard serial killers have problems with oxytocin receptors, causing them to be un-soothable. Something about the brain being flooded with oxytocin in the womb, which meant they become immune to it later (can't remember where I heard that so don't quote me).

    Idk about the article though. I am pretty much a cold hearted bitch when it comes to a lot of things people would assume you should be empathetic toward. I have had people marvel at how incredibly patient I can be while teaching someone something, or overseeing a child trying to figure something out. Keeping them calm enough to stay focused until they get it. I probably wont cry in movies or at someone recounting their horrible tale. I wouldn't donate to a charity for the hell of it, and don't even really believe in charity at all.

    I think a lot of emo stuff depends on the way you look at it. Where you chose to focus your time or resources. As a matter of fact, I'd wager that most people have a soft spot for one incredibly sympathetic portion of humanity. Since people usually empathize with what is familiar or associated with their own feelings.

    The oxytocin factor would be concentrated toward the inability to feel or understand your own emotional responses in common situations, which is a lot more rare than choosing to ignore them.

  6. #6
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    MBTI
    INTJ
    Enneagram
    5w6 sp/sx
    Posts
    17,517

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Jenaphor View Post
    While the scientific findings are interesting, the behavioural conclusions appear to be emotionally driven and skewed. For example, have you never over-ridden emotional output by applying objective thinking?
    I do this all the time. When I learn about a dire or distressing situation, I ask myself whether I can do anything about it, and if so, what will the cost be. If I donate money to Charity A, I will not have it to give to B or C. Obviously, this precipitates a comparison with my personal values and priorities. I see no point, however, expending emotional or other energy on a situation, however deserving, that is outside my ability to influence.

  7. #7
    Banned
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    MBTI
    INFJ
    Enneagram
    6w5
    Posts
    3,278

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Jenaphor View Post
    While the scientific findings are interesting, the behavioural conclusions appear to be emotionally driven and skewed. For example, have you never over-ridden emotional output by applying objective thinking?
    Have you?

    This article explains a little, why I become a parody of the negativity around me sometimes.

    Thanks for sharing Vas.

  8. #8
    nee andante bechimo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    8,022

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis View Post
    I do this all the time. When I learn about a dire or distressing situation, I ask myself whether I can do anything about it, and if so, what will the cost be. If I donate money to Charity A, I will not have it to give to B or C. Obviously, this precipitates a comparison with my personal values and priorities. I see no point, however, expending emotional or other energy on a situation, however deserving, that is outside my ability to influence.
    Same here. Let's say that Charity A is attempting to emotionally appeal but has a track record of having substantial overhead. This means to me that $x aren't going where it's needed. With this in mind, my preference is to contribute to smaller charities who have a proven track record for ensuring that more is going where it needs to go, to the needy in crisis, instead of overhead.

  9. #9
    Symbolic Herald Vasilisa's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Posts
    4,128

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by whatever View Post
    hmmm... wonder if this has anything to do with the thought that the relative anonymity of the internet unleashing some people's inner troll If you can't see them to mirror them or identify with them sympathy is MORE difficult?
    Thats a good question. I always hear it blamed solely on anonymity, but you bring up an interesting idea. It reminds me a little bit of the study claiming that botox impairs empathy in those who have had it done. As if not being able to mirror has processing effects in both situations.

    Quote Originally Posted by mochajava View Post
    Wonderful find, Vasalisa. I want to read the "Quirk" book now and start measuring the oxytocin levels of everyone around me The gender divide is totally believable. Women donate more to charity and are more likely to enroll as subjects for vaccine trials. Whether that's socialization or genetics, I don't know.

    Interesting that we fear each other less too. I wonder if that finding could be applied somehow.
    I zeroed in on that, too, mochajava.
    Experiments wherein people sniff oxytocin to bolster the chemical in their brain show that the chemical may work in two ways. It may operate first by dampening our natural fear of one another. Oxytocin is very active in the amygdala, which monitors the world for danger. Extra oxytocin fights fear. Then, with that terror out of the way, perhaps it's easier to read another person's emotions and relate to them. People dosed with oxytocin make more direct eye contact, and they are better at describing the emotions portrayed on another's face. So extra oxytocin also helps us to empathize.
    It kind of jibes with some other potential psychiatric treatment I heard about recently that helps people overcome trauma by reducing the fear response to emotional threats. And also, in a personal way, it kind of inspires me to let go of more fear in order to connect with people even more deeply, risky as it may sound.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jenaphor View Post
    While the scientific findings are interesting, the behavioural conclusions appear to be emotionally driven and skewed. For example, have you never over-ridden emotional output by applying objective thinking?
    You are right, and I think the author at least tries to address that in the article.
    humans come in many shades of cooperativeness. Why would that be? Why does evolution perpetuate both the pushovers and the pushers? Well, a personality that's low in sympathy or empathy is not a heartless block of stone. She just isn't so quick to assume the feelings of others. She does a better job of maintaining her boundaries and keeping a steady eye on her own future. Undistracted by life's melodramas, she's more likely to focus on facts and figures.
    I like that there is appreciation for all the different modes. I haven't read the book. If anyone here does, it would be interesting to read his or her impressions on the rest of Holmes's conclusions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Arclight View Post
    Thanks for sharing Vas.
    Thank all of you for reading and replying.
    the formless thing which gives things form!
    Found Forum Haiku Project


    Positive Spin | your feedback welcomed | Darker Criticism

  10. #10
    resonance entropie's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    MBTI
    entp
    Enneagram
    783
    Posts
    16,761

    Default

    I personally found the article brain- and heartless. To account heartlessness of being the result of "missing the heartful gene" is one of the most easiest ways to get out of troubles and the logic behind it has high potential for the tabloid press.

    The human mind is a vast and complex organism which is defined by the sum of its experiences and faculties to experience. It's far out to assume only one gene is responsible for disabling the majority of the faculties to experience. Besides that it is totally ignoring what influence personal experience can have on a human being.

    You really have to get away from these mind or heart only models. They wont just ever work
    [URL]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tEBvftJUwDw&t=0s[/URL]

Similar Threads

  1. The science of introverts and the workplace
    By Vasilisa in forum Academics and Careers
    Replies: 35
    Last Post: 12-29-2013, 08:53 AM
  2. Beyond Verbal: The Science of Emotions
    By Jonny in forum Science, Technology, and Future Tech
    Replies: 16
    Last Post: 10-21-2013, 02:20 AM
  3. The science of love
    By clandestine in forum General Psychology
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 09-29-2013, 06:14 AM
  4. The Science of Snobbery
    By Vasilisa in forum General Psychology
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 09-14-2013, 10:02 AM
  5. The Science of Why We Don't Believe Science
    By Magic Poriferan in forum General Psychology
    Replies: 18
    Last Post: 05-01-2011, 12:56 AM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
Single Sign On provided by vBSSO