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Culture of Empathy Builder: Sylvia Morelli

http://j.mp/ZPUmlf

Sylvia Morelli and Edwin Rutsch: How to Build a Culture of Empathy with Science

Sylvia Morelli is a Postdoctoral Fellow at Stanford Social Neuroscience Lab at Stanford University. In her current research, she examines the neural and behavioral basis of empathy and perspective-taking, as well as the neural responses associated with feeling understood by others.

 

We held a wide ranging discussion about the nature of empathy, and her work on researching it.  In a recent study and paper, Sylvia explored the neural and behavioral consequences of feeling understood. 

Sylvia says, when we are understood, or empathized with, the pleasure centers of the brain light up. In other words, feeling empathized with feels good. "Behavioral research has demonstrated that feeling understood by others enhances social closeness and intimacy, as well as subjective well-being. In contrast, feeling misunderstood can be harmful to social relationships, leading to loneliness and isolation. However, it is still unclear why and how felt understanding exerts such a powerful impact on both interpersonal and intrapersonal well-being" 
Sub Conference: Science: Neuroscience


 
 

 

Sylvia Morelli & Edwin Rutsch: How to Build a Culture of Empathy

 

 

Transcripts (Video Transcriptions: If you would like to take empathic action and create a transcription of this video, check the volunteers page.  The transcriptions will make it easier for other viewers to quickly see the content of this video.)

 

 

Morelli, S.A., Torre, J. & Eisenberger, N.I. (April, 2013). The neural and behavioral consequences of feeling
understood. Talk presented at the 5th Annual Social Affective Neuroscience Conference, San Francisco, CA.

"Behavioral research has demonstrated that feeling understood by others enhances social closeness and intimacy, as well as subjective well-being. In contrast, feeling misunderstood can be harmful to social relationships, leading to loneliness and isolation. However, it is still unclear why and how felt understanding exerts such a powerful impact on both interpersonal and
intrapersonalwell-being. Therefore, we will examine

  • (1) what neural systems track felt understanding and

  • (2) if these neural systems can predict increased social closeness.

In an initial behavioral session, 31 UCLA undergraduates were videotaped as they described their four most positive and four most negative autobiographical events. In addition, participants were asked for their consent to show other UCLA students their videos. A subset of 19 participants returned for an fMRI scanning session approximately one week later. "


 

April 2013 - The role of automaticity and attention in neural processes underlying empathy for happiness, sadness, and anxiety. Sylvia A. Morelli  and Matthew D. Lieberman
"Although many studies have examined the neural basis of experiencing empathy, relatively little is known about how empathic processes are affected by different attentional conditions. Thus, we examined whether instructions to empathize might amplify responses in empathy-related regions and whether cognitive load would diminish the involvement of these regions.
Thirty-two participants completed a functional magnetic resonance imaging session assessing empathic responses to individuals experiencing happy, sad, and anxious ..."

"Past research suggests that empathy may occur instantaneously and automatically when we recognize another’s emotional state (Preston and De Waal, 2002), even if we are cognitively busy. However, other research suggests that empathy is disrupted when we are distracted and cognitively occupied (Gu and Han, 2007)."

 

2011/3/1 - An fMRI investigation of empathy for ‘social pain’and subsequent prosocial behavior

"Despite empathy's importance for promoting social interactions, neuroimaging research has largely overlooked empathy during social experiences. Here, we examined neural activity during empathy for social exclusion and assessed how empathy-related neural processes might relate to subsequent prosocial behavior toward the excluded victim. During an fMRI scan, participants observed one person being excluded by two others, and afterwards sent emails to each of these 'people.'Later, a group of raters assessed how prosocial (eg, ..."

 

 

 

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