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:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... ... convenient way to dispense prescription medications at home, so he invented the patent-pending ... monitor and dispense prescription medications. In doing so, it could help to prevent ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... , ... MPWH, the No.1 Herpes-only dating community in the world, revealed that over 50% of ... than 3.7 billion people under the age of 50 – or 67% of the population ... global estimates of HSV-1 infection . , "The data shocks us highly!" said Michelle ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... ... online platform for mental health and wellness consultation, has collaborated with a leading ... bridge the knowledge gap experienced by parents and bring advice from parenting experts ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... Indosoft ... announces the incorporation of Asterisk 11 LTS (Long Term Support) into its Q-Suite ... LTS brings Q-Suite 5.10 up-to-date with a version of Asterisk that will receive ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... ... 2015 , ... The Catalent Applied Drug Delivery Institute today ... dose form selection in early phase drug development. The first of these is ... together the UK’s emerging life sciences companies, corporate partners, and investors, at Milton ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/26/2015)... 2015 Research and Markets ( ) has ... Market Outlook to 2019 - Rise in Cardiac Disorders and ... report to their offering. Boston ... scientific and others. --> The ... Boston scientific and others. ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... -- Research and Markets ( ) has ... Horizons and Growth Strategies in the Japanese Therapeutic ... Forecasts, Competitive Intelligence, Emerging Opportunities" report to ... --> This new 247-page report provides ... monitoring market, including emerging tests, technologies, instrumentation, sales ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... DUBLIN , November 26, 2015 ... has announced the addition of the  ... in the Global Cell Surface Testing ... Opportunities" report to their offering.  ... the addition of the  "2016 Future ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: