Empathy, the cooperative side of humanity

orangatangScientists think they’ve found the origins of human empathy in studying orang-utans.  They found that laughter is contagious and important for animals that live in groups. “Empathy helps one communicate with social partners … It helps form social bonds and it’s supportive in terms of cooperation.”

Another study examines our potential for violence and finds, “Contrary to popular belief, we are born violent. Until the age of three, our impulses run riot. There is no stopping the urges which come from the emotional centre in our brains.

But as we grow up, we start to develop the part of the brain that allows us to control our aggression – the pre-frontal cortex.

What causes some people to not control their tendency to be violent?  What allows others to remain passive, calm and peaceful?  What part does our culture and our experiences play?  We know laughter is contagious.  Is violence also?

When you read stories like those telling of the people gathering to protest at The University of Notre Dame tomorrow, you can’t ignore the mass hysteria, how much greater the threats of violence are because too often violence creates violence.  Does being a part of a group who are furious give permission to behave in ways we might find unacceptable as an individual?



Filed under Crimes, Evolution, hate groups, Obama, Uncategorized

14 responses to “Empathy, the cooperative side of humanity

  1. I counted at least five questions. Which one did you answer? (Now, there’s at least six.) 😉

  2. wicked

    Religion must stunt that pre-frontal cortex growth.

  3. No kidding, wicked. Seems it should do just the opposite.

  4. The last one, of course. 🙂

  5. wicked

    Oooh, ooooh, I want to play!

    What causes some people to not control their tendency to be violent?


    What allows others to remain passive, calm and peaceful?

    Listening to New Age music and smoking pot. 😉

    What part does our culture and our experiences play?

    Sorry, these people have no relationship to “cultured”, except for their cottage cheese brains. It’s that cortex thing again. Underdeveloped.

    We know laughter is contagious. Is violence also?

    Oh, hail, yes! Mass hysteria. Primal. That’s what going apeshit is all about.

  6. jammer5

    Has anybody else here watched chimp eden? A show about rehabilitating chimps in order to place them back in their wild habitats. The emotional spectrum runs the gauntlet, and usually when a new chimp is added. It upsets the hierarchy. It gets more interesting when you transpose those reactions to ones you see in everyday life.

    For us humans, those emotional changes could be political, as in Obama’s diploma from Notre Dame, and the ensuing flap, the tea bag hysteria, and its rants about basically nothing. Or personal.

    I have noticed, though, that the typical con brain is sorely lacking in humor. Maybe that’s why they think marching in lockstep will accomplish whatever goal they are trying to gain. Liberals, on the other hand, tend to discuss, rather than rant. But we do have our exceptions 🙂

  7. wicked

    Oh, we rant, but we do it with a touch of that humor that cons lack.

    We also disagree among our own ranks, but we’re more accepting of others and are willing to listen, even to cons. Up to a point, of course. 😉

  8. tosmarttobegop

    OK you give me something I have thoughts on and would bore you with all day.
    So instead a story that has some of all aspects of this topic.

    I was talking with an armed robber or I should say by his claim a former armed robber.
    He had started his career as a armed robber in his middle teens, he was now in his late twenties.
    He had developed it to a almost exact science and said it was so there was no real danger to his victims or himself. The goal was the money and he bared no one ill will, he did not give any thought to his victims as human beings. They simply were the means to the money and he did not even see them as being humans.
    It was never a consideration, they were just the way to the money much like the door he walked through to get in the place.

    Happenstance had it where being wanted in Kansas his wife, child and he fled to Florida. While there the child got so sick that they took her to the hospital, it was worrisome for him. The Doctors were not sure just what was wrong and hours were passing. He finally could not stand any longer the need for a cigarette.
    Smoking was not allowed within the hospital, so he went to the car to smoke.

    A stranger came to the driver’s door and ask what time it was? No sooner then he looked at his arm to see the wrist watch. Then the passenger door flew open and another stranger was pointing a gun at him.
    The stranger on the driver’s side then pulled his gun too.

    He was tied up and put in the trunk and the two strangers drove around robbing stores and people.
    It went on for hours riding around in the dark trunk afraid and worried about himself and the baby.
    Finally the car stopped for quite awhile, then the trunk opened and the strangers took him out.
    They did something next that scared him even more, all this time he had not been blindfolded.
    But they then took his shirt off and wrapped it around his head! He was tied to a tree in the middle of no where. For what seemed an hour they would curse at him, put what he took for a gun to his head and cock the hammer. Telling him they would kill him, then lower the hammer only to put the gun back and cock it again.

    He begged them to not kill him, he told of his sick child and wife he had. He promised to not tell anyone about them. Never in his life even when robbing people did he ever know such fear!
    They threaten to set him on fire and would strike a lighter placing it to his arms.

    Finally it was quiet and that frightened him too, he had not heard them leave so he wonder if they were planning something worse. Finally he heard the car start and drive off.

    Managing to get untied he walked back to a road and flagged down a car. he got back to the hospital and found out the baby was going to be fine. But the shaking would not stop and he suddenly was haunted.
    For the first time in his life he thought of his victims, how they must of been so frightened when he robbed them. His guilt was so great he turned himself in to the Police after getting his wife and child back to Kansas and her family.

    His empathy for his victims having felt what they must have felt. Caused him to see that he could not and would not ever do it again. And his self felt guilt for having put others through what he had went through.
    Made him confess and face the punishment. True story.

  9. I really like the guy in the picture on this thread — he is cute. 😉

    I had a little more respect for the run of the mill Republicans and Conservatives (I still firmly believe those are two totally different animals!) before President Obama was elected. Seems all they can do now is complain, criticize, predict the sky is falling and worse. Amazes me. Add that they still offer up justifications and excuses for bushco.

    Now I have to wonder about their ability to reason.

    Sense of humor — nope, they don’t have any of that!

  10. wicked

    tstbg, good story.

    So here’s what we do. We take all the uber-wealthy and let them live among the homeless and poor as one of them. It’s the “walk a mile in my shoes” theory. All those people who have screwed over the little guy, used him for steps to the top, get to find out what life is really like for far too many.

  11. Thunderchild

    This goes to what I have always said about cons.

    They are arrested children who never got out of the “mine!” phase.

    As I have often told, I grew up a conservative. But even IN that time, my thoughts were always directed at the greater good. It was tough in a way coming of age and finding out that the core of today’s conservative is rotten with hypocrisy and self or “higher” seen self interest.