Week 5: Common Humanity


Newspaper and web articles:

Susan Fiske (2008) “Look Twice”, Greater Good.  https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/look_twice

Juliana Breines (2013)  “Is it possible to Love all of Humanity?”, Greater Good.  https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/is_it_possible_to_love_all_humanity



Brene Brown: The Power of Empathy (3 mins).  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jz1g1SpD9Zo

Tania Singer: Breaking the Wall Between People (16 mins).  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bUXZrKvT8JY.  Max Planck Institute, Berlin

Daniel Goleman:  Why Aren’t we More Compassionate – Ted Talk (11.46 mins).  https://www.ted.com/talks/daniel_goleman_on_compassion#t-9957

Tania Singer:  The Neuroscience of Compassion (20 mins).  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-hKS4rucTY.  World Economic Forum



Tania Singer and Olga Klimecki (2014) .  Empathy and Compassion, Current Biology.  https://www.researchgate.net/publication/265909916_Empathy_and_Compassion

Fiske S. (2009), From Dehumanization and Objectification to Rehumanization

This is the research which describes different reactions people may have to others categorized by the perceived levels of their warmth and competence.  http://connectingcompassion.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Fiske2009socialneurosciencehumanity.pdf

Boris C. Bernhardt and Tania Singer (2012) The Neural Basis of Empathy.  Annual Review of Neuroscience. https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/full/10.1146/annurev-neuro-062111-150536

“Empathy—the ability to share the feelings of others—is fundamental to our emotional and social lives. Previous human imaging studies focusing on empathy for others’ pain have consistently shown activations in regions also involved in the direct pain experience, particularly anterior insula and anterior and mid-cingulate cortex.  These findings suggest that empathy is, in part, based on shared representations for firsthand and vicarious experiences of affective states. Empathic responses are not static but can be modulated by person characteristics, such as degree of alexithymia. It has also been shown that contextual appraisal, including perceived fairness or group membership of others, may modulate empathic neuronal activations. Empathy often involves coactivations in further networks associated with social cognition, depending on the specific situation and information available in the environment.”

Khatibi. A. and Mazidi M. (2018).  Observers’ impression of the person in pain influences their pain estimation and tendency to help.  The European Journal of Pain.  https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/ejp.1361

“People rated pain in positive characters higher than the pain in negative characters. They also expressed more tendency to help and a higher level of perceived empathy towards positive characters than negative characters. For the highest level of pain in positive characters, perceived injustice towards that person was the best predictor of the observer’s pain estimation, tendency to help and perceived empathy.  For negative characters, dislikeability was the best predictor of tendency to help and perceived empathy.”

Leyens J. et al (2008).  Infra-humanization: The Wall of Group Differences.  Social Issues Policy Review.  https://www.researchgate.net/publication/227665331_Infra-humanization_The_Wall_of_Group_Differences

“Infra-humanizing outgroups involves considering outgroups less human and more animal-like than the ingroup, which is perceived, in essence, as fully human. In this article, the first section presents the theoretical background of infra-humanization and distinguishes it from related concepts, such as dehumanization. The three basic hypotheses of the theory are then presented with a summary of empirical evidence. Social implications follow. Reasons for the pervasiveness of the phenomenon are examined as well as conditions that lead a specific outgroup to be infrahumanized. We also explore the consequences of infra-humanization, such as a lack of forgiveness for the outgroup and the ingroup’s justification for past misdeeds against the outgroup, rather than guilt. Policy issues center on ways to combat essentialism, walls of difference between groups, and irrational symbols of superiority. The roles of egalitarian values and of de-provincialized intergroup contact are emphasized.”

Wynn K., Bloom K., Jordan A., Marshall J., and Sheskin M.  Not Noble Savages After All: Limits to Early Altruism.  Current Directions in Psychological Science.  https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0963721417734875

“Many scholars draw on evidence from evolutionary biology, behavioural economics, and infant research to argue that humans are “noble savages,” endowed with indiscriminate kindness. We believe this is mistaken. While there is evidence for an early-emerging moral sense—even infants recognize and favour instances of fairness and kindness among third parties—altruistic behaviours are selective from the start. Babies and young children favor people who have been kind to them in the past and favour familiar individuals over strangers. They hold strong biases for in-group over out-group members and for themselves over others, and indeed are more unequivocally selfish than older children and adults. Much of what is most impressive about adult morality arises not through inborn capacities but through a fraught developmental process that involves exposure to culture and the exercise of rationality.”

Abbink, K. and Harris, D. (2019)  In-Group Favouritism and Out-Group discrimination in naturally occurring groups. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0221616

“We study in-group favouritism and out-group discrimination in a multiplayer dictator game in a naturally occurring group setting. An allocator divides a large sum of money among three groups of around 20 recipients each and also to themselves. The groups are supporters of two rival political movements in Thailand and politically neutral subjects. The non-rival out-group acts as a reference point and allows us to measure in-group favouritism and out-group discrimination. A treatment with artificial groups serves as a control. We find both in-group favouritism and out-group discrimination among the naturally occurring groups. In artificial groups, favouritism is observed, but not discrimination. Our results suggest that the two behaviours are not driven by the same motive, and only when groups are in conflict that out-group discrimination is likely to occur.”



Kristen Renwick Monroe (1998)  The Heart of Altruism.  Princeton University Press