Navigation Links
Race and empathy matter on neural level

EVANSTON, Ill. --Race matters on a neurological level when it comes to empathy for African-Americans in distress, according to a new Northwestern University study.

In a rare neuroscience look at racial minorities, the study shows that African-Americans showed greater empathy for African-Americans facing adversity in this case for victims of Hurricane Katrina than Caucasians demonstrated for Caucasian-Americans in pain.

"We found that everybody reported empathy toward the Hurricane Katrina victims," said Joan Y. Chiao, assistant professor of psychology and author of the study. "But African-Americans additionally showed greater empathic response to other African-Americans in emotional pain."

The more African-Americans identified as African-American the more likely they were to show greater empathic preference for African-Americans, the study showed.

Initially, Chiao thought that both African-Americans and Caucasian-Americans would either show no pattern of in-group bias or both show some sort of preference.

The take-home point to Chiao: our ability to identify with another person dramatically changes how much we can feel the pain of another and how much we're willing to help them.

"It's just that feeling of that person is like me, or that person is similar to me," she said. "That experience can really lead to what we're calling 'extraordinary empathy and altruistic motivation.' It's empathy and altruistic motivation above and beyond what you would do for another human."

Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, the study included an equal number of African-American and Caucasian-American study participants. They were shown pictures depicting either African-American or Caucasian-American individuals in a painful (i.e. in the midst of a natural disaster) or neutral (attending an outdoor picnic).

"We think this is really interesting because it suggests mechanisms by which we can enhance our empathy and altruistic motivation simply by finding ways in which we have commonality across individuals and across groups," Chiao said.

Chiao, who works at one of only two labs in the world dedicated to cultural and social neuroscience, is particularly interested in how social identities related to gender or race modulate the biological process underlying feeling and reason. (The Web address for the Social and Cultural Neuroscience Lab at Northwestern is


Contact: Hilary Hurd Anyaso
Northwestern University

Related medicine news :

1. First Animated Instructional Oral Sex Video Reaches Mainstream America, Despite the Touchy and Controversial Subject Matter
2. Transparency Should Not Be a Luxury; It Is a Matter of Life and Death: What Purchasers and Consumers Can Do
3. Study finds reduced brain gray matter concentration in patients with severe obstructive sleep apnea
4. For the Knee, Shoes and Playing Surface Matter
5. Your Weight Matters Campaign Challenges the American Public to Talk to Their Doctor About Their Weight
6. Timing of Multiple-Ligament Knee Surgery May Not Matter
7. For Babies Sake, Pregnancy Spacing Matters
8. 3 brain diseases linked by toxic form of same neural protein
9. Neuralstem Receives Approval To Commence First ALS Stem Cell Trial at Emory ALS Center
10. Tests Show Top Tuna Brands Have High Mercury Levels
11. Peer Review Experts Have Weighed In ... WEIGHLEVEL Is a Proven Winner
Post Your Comments:
(Date:6/26/2016)... , ... June 27, 2016 , ... Quality metrics are ... in many ways they remain in the eye of the beholder, according to experts ... publication of The American Journal of Managed Care. For the full issue, click ...
(Date:6/26/2016)... Carolina (PRWEB) , ... June 26, 2016 , ... ... of a new product that was developed to enhance the health of felines. The ... centuries. , The two main herbs in the PawPaws Cat Kidney Support ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... 25, 2016 , ... Experts from the American Institutes for ... Meeting June 26-28, 2016, at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston. , AIR ... care planning, healthcare costs and patient and family engagement. , AIR researchers will ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... ... "With 30 hand-drawn hand gesture animations, FCPX users can easily customize each ... Film Studios. , ProHand Cartoon’s package transforms over 1,300 hand-drawn pictures into hand ... select a ProHand generator and drag it above media or text in the Final ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... June 25, 2016 , ... Dr. Calvin ... injury. Recently, he has implemented orthobiologic procedures as a method for treating his ... of the first doctors to perform the treatment. Orthobiologics are substances that orthopaedic ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... Roche (SIX: RO, ROG; OTCQX: RHHBY) announced that it ... (procalcitonin) assay as a dedicated testing solution for people ... Roche is the first IVD company in the U.S ... assessment and management. PCT is a sepsis-specific ... blood can aid clinicians in assessing the risk of ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 2016 Bracket , a leading clinical trial ... clinical outcomes platform, Bracket eCOA (SM) 6.0, at the ... – 30, 2016 in Philadelphia , Pennsylvania.  ... Assessment product of its kind to fully integrate with RTSM, ... eCOA 6.0 is a flexible platform for electronic clinical outcomes ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... Revolutionary technology includes multi-speaker listening to conquer ... in advanced audiology and hearing aid technology, has today ... world,s first internet connected hearing aid that opens up ...      (Photo: ) , ... , TwinLink™ - the first dual communication ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: