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Social Theory

Are you born with Empathy? Or is it Learnt behaviour?

Source: Couleur

 

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Both, sorta. Empathy is sorta like language. Humans don’t start with it, but they do have a disposition to acquire it. Babies, for example, don’t care about anyone other than themselves, but children gradually become more empathetic and less self-centered as they get older. Furthermore, empathy development is guided by society.

mounted2czarina

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It depends what you mean by babies. I’m not aware of any research on very young infants attempting to comfort or assist adults, but this paper demonstrated that at 18 months all 65 children in the study responded to an adult stranger displaying sadness by attempting to comfort her and they also helped her to get an object which the child could reach and the researcher could not.

wishanem

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Rebecca Saxe’s discovery on Theory of Mind(ToM) explains this. She’s an MIT neuroscientist that studies brain development in children. Basically, ToM is the area of the brain responsible for thinking about what another person is thinking.

She has a TED Talk you can look up.

Palufay

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Both. For low empathy types, a lot of it has to do with difficult learning it at a younger age and not developing it like a neurotypical brain (in a healthy environment) would. That’s the nature or “born” part.

Though it can also be argued that a lack of empathy can be fostered and rewarded within families and communities that perceive themselves as deserving, aka privileged. This is built on the nurture or “learned” part.

Dmarek02

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Aren’t empathy and social skills (e.g. being polite, not bullying one another) often reinforced in childcare, kindergarten, school?

Rozenwater

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You are born with it. Empathy is essential for the survival of mankind. Those without it are categorized as sociopaths and psychopaths. If you are interested in the topic of empathy in children I recommend the book Born to Love by Dr. Bruce Perry.

CrapNuggets86

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Human brains don’t finish developing until our early 20s. One of the parts that develops later in the process is the prefrontal cortex, which plays a big part in defining how much of a dick someone is.

Basically, children are horrible little shits because their brains aren’t all there yet. Sounds like a joke or an insult, but it’s kinda just how it is. While there is learning involved, a large part of it is still in the physical development and maturation of the brain.

sobri909

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