Psychology and Neurobiology of Empathy

Douglas F. Watt, PhD
Harvard Medical School, Clinic for Cognitive Disorders, Quincy Medical Center, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA

Jaak Panksepp, PhD
Baily Endowed Chair of Animal Well-Being Science, Department of Integrative Physiology and Neuroscience, College of Veterinary Medicine, Washington State University, Pullman, WA

Series: Psychology of Emotions, Motivations and Actions
BISAC: PSY013000

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The scientific study of empathy has exploded in the past decade. Practically all of the relevant sciences — from various neuroscientific, psychological and sociological perspectives — are now vigorously participating in the emerging conversations about the nature of this essential, pro-social process. Empathy is also emerging as a critical topic in medical education and practice, in terms of its essential relevance for not only the patient – physician relationship and bed-side practice, but also for diverse psychiatric problems and syndromes that demonstrate a fundamental disordering of empathy, particularly conduct disorder/sociopathy and autistic spectrum disorders.

Consistent with these multidisciplinary trends and interests, this volume reflects contributions from many disciplines and summarizes the impact of diverse empathy studies. It also discusses the perspectives of individuals participating in the scientific discussion and scholarship about this critical frontier topic. Contributions in the present volume range from detailed neuroscientific reviews of empathy concepts and processes, to a diversity of evolutionary and developmental perspectives looking at empathy in both phylogeny and ontogeny.

Likewise, an examination of how helping and medical disciplines are impacted by such issues are included — a wide ranging and comprehensive list of topics that are typically not covered elsewhere in a single volume. In summary, this book covers diverse but related approaches to understanding empathy from evolutionary, developmental, sociological and clinical viewpoints across the life cycle. Various contributors from around the world merge scientific and practical viewpoints in depth to provide readers a comprehensive picture of this emerging field, ranging from basic scientific knowledge to practical medical perspectives.

This book should be a valuable resource to those interested in the diverse facets of empathy, from advanced students in psychology and related fields, to educators, to various medical and healthcare professionals. It may appeal to anyone interested not only in scientific studies of empathy, but also those curious about how a deeper understanding of empathy might inform and illuminate problems related to our daily human social interactions and their vicissitudes.

(Imprint: Nova Biomedical)

Preface

Overviews of Empathy - Neurobiology, Evolution, Psychology

Chapter 1. Empathy and the Prosocial Brain: Integrating Cognitive and Affective Perspectives in Human and Animal Models of Empathy
(Douglas F Watt and Jaak Panksepp, Harvard Medical School, Clinic for Cognitive Disorders, Quincy Medical Center, Boston University, School of Medicine, MA, USA, and others)

Chapter 2. Evolutionary Origins of Empathy
(Shigeru Watanabe, Division of Cognitive and Behavioral Research, Research Centre for Human Cognition, Keio University, Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan)

Chapter 3. The Positive (and Negative) Psychology of Empathy
(Sara Konrath and Delphine Grynberg, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA, and others)

Empathy Through the Lifecycle

Chapter 4. The Development of Empathy in Early Childhood
(Maria Licata, Amanda Williams and Markus Paulus, Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich, Germany, and others)

Chapter 5. Empathy in Children: Theory and Assessment
(María Cristina Richaud de Minzi, Viviana Noemí Lemos, Laura Beatriz Oros, Director of the Interdisciplinary Center of Research in Mathematic and Experimental Psychology- National Council of Scientific and Technical Research (CONICET), and others)

Chapter 6. Empathy in Adolescence: Familial Determinants and Peer Relationship Outcomes
(Holly Ruhl and Chong Man Chow, University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson, TX, USA, and others)

Chapter 7. Gender Roles, not Anatomical Sex, Predict Social Cognitive Capacities, such as Empathy and Perspective-Taking
(Jennifer Vonk, Patricia Mayhew and Virgil Zeigler-Hill, Oakland University, Rochester, MI, USA, and others)

Chapter 8. Empathy and Aging: Mechanisms of Empathy throughout Adulthood
(Tao Yang and Michael J. Banissy, Department of Psychology, Goldsmiths, University of London, London, UK)

Empathy in the Helping Professions

Chapter 9. Empathy in Medical Education
(Geon Ho Bahn, Teckyoung Kwon, and Min Ha Hong, Department of Psychiatry, Kyung Hee University School of Medicine, Dongdaemun-Gu, Seoul, Korea, and others)

Chapter 10. Empathy: Angel Or Devil? How Shared Emotions can Help or Hinder Nurses in their Relationships with Patients
(Anna Maria Meneghini, Laura Cunico and Riccardo Sartori, Department of Philosophy, Education and Psychology, University of Verona, Italy)

Chapter 11. Enhancing Empathy in the Helping Professions
(Gail Kinman, and Louise Grant, Professor of Occupational Health Psychology, University of Bedfordshire, Bedfordshire, UK)

Empathy in Clinical Disorders

Chapter 12. Empathy Dysfunction: Deconstructing Social Functioning in Autism Spectrum Disorders and Conduct Disorder
(Sara Paloma Vilas Sanz, Amanda Ludlow, and Renate Reniers, School of Psychology, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK)

Chapter 13. One but Not all Doors Closed to Empathy: Impaired Resonance Induction in Patients with Subcortical Motor Impairments in Huntington’s Disease
(Iris Trinkler, Institut du cerveau et de la moelle épinière, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Pitié-Salpêtrière, Paris, France)

Chapter 14. Empathy and Mirror-Gazing
(Giovanni B. Caputo, DIPSUM, University of Urbino, Urbino, Italy)

Chapter 15. Competing Factor Structures for the Toronto Empathy Questionnaire
(Carlo Chiorri, Department of Educational Sciences, Psychology Section, University of Genova, Genova, Italy, Psyche-Dendron Association, Milano, Italy)

Epilogue

Chapter 16. Closing Neuroscientific Reflections and Cultural/Philosophical Implications of Empathy Research
(Douglas F. Watt and Jaak Panksepp, Cambridge Health Alliance, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA, Clinic for Cognitive Disorders, Quincy Medical Center, Quincy, MA, USA, and others)

Index

“What a wonderful book!!! Empathy in all its different dimensions, from the neurobiology and evolution of empathy to alterations over empathy in clinical disorders to empathy in life style and helping professions. After reading this wonderful book, it is clear – empathy is one of the building blocks of our nature and culture and thus of our existence. This message is wonderfully conveyed by various experts in the field and excellently summarized by the editors of the book who should be applauded for this unique effort!.” - Professor Georg Northoff, M.D, Ph.D., Mind, Brain Imaging and Neuroethics (Canada Research Chair), CIHR, University of Ottawa Institute of Mental Health Research, Canada

This book covers diverse but related approaches to understanding empathy from evolutionary, developmental, sociological and clinical viewpoints across the life cycle. Various contributors from around the world merge scientific and practical viewpoints, in depth, to provide readers a comprehensive picture of this emerging field ranging from basic scientific to practical medical perspectives. This book should be a valuable resource to those interested in the diverse facets of empathy, from advanced students in psychology and related fields, to educators to various medical and healthcare professionals. It may appeal to anyone interested not only in scientific studies of empathy, but also curious about how a deeper understanding of empathy might inform and illuminate every day practical problems related to our daily human social interactions and their vicissitudes. Educators and teachers, philosophers, neuroscientists, clinicians, and even historians and cultural anthropologists may find recent research in the multidisciplinary empathy sciences immediately relevant to their work and daily concerns.

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