What is it that makes a cry during a sad movie? Why do we care when another kid on the playground gets picked on? Why do we celebrate others’ accomplishments?
The answer to all these questions is empathy.
Recent brain studies are taking this abstract idea and uncovering the physical mechanisms behind it. Biologists discovered mirror-neurons, or empathy neurons. They say these are what allow animals to understand another’s experience, without having to experience it for themselves.
Human beings are the most empathetic creatures on Earth. Empathy is not just learned, it is engrained in our biological makeup. This feeling of connectedness with our fellow humans is not only beneficial to our social development, but it may even be essential for our survival!
Empathy allows us to gain global consciousness, but it also affects us in our simple, day-to-day activities. When we are watching a tear-jerker, we feel for the characters and relate to their situations. In this short film, Jeremy Rifkin explains the ideas behind his new book, The Empathetic Civilization.
- Why Do People Cry at Sad Movies? (FinerMinds)
- ‘The Empathetic Civilization’: Rethinking Human Nature in the Biosphere Generation (HuffingtonPost)