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Empathy = Civilisation

How Empathy is the driver behind Ethics, Ambition, Art, Trade, Sports, .. and why Empathy also has a dark side.

KJP Sheedy

on 15 August 2018

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Transcript of Empathy = Civilisation

is essential to
Empathy enables humans to live in large diverse groups
Civil Life
Resolving disputes between individuals by applying Laws works because the administration of justice is supported by empathy:
Identifying with the feeling of shame or pain by those being punished, as well as the feeling of vindication that justice creates in those who have been wronged.
From simple barter, through currency systems like cowrie shells or gold, to time related commerce like commodities futures, trade is ubiquitous.
Human culture and social rules, just or unjust, are strongly influenced by trade.
The communications factor
Communicating emotion
Communicating Information
The drive to make things better
Spare Capacity creates the potential
But once the space is there ... why is is filled with civilisation, not chaos ?
Add the spare brain power to come up with ideas
An excess of essential resources
Frees time to spend on what we find stimulating
Evolution favours empathy
...provided it is underpinned with an animal sense of
fair play
and justice
Social and cooperative behaviour is
Watch the monkey!
Empathy = Identification + Reaction + Mode
Empathy & Sympathy are


the same thing
Learn more about Empathy in this Prezi:
From cave painting or dancing around a fire to a $100m movie, it is the empathy of the audience that makes the cultural artifact connect.
Intuitive and emotional connections through physical empathy...
Conscious engagement through intellectual empathy with conceptual artists
of teaching is created by empathy with the pupil. Creating and sharing the
Even when the pupil is remote or unknown to them, that empathy inspires the teacher.
While Wikipedia proves the the value of teaching is higher that the personal cost of creating content, there is also a strong link to trade. Empathy informs judgements on the value of knowledge.
The DARK side of Empathy
Selective Empathy
Time Travelling Empathy
Empathy for the satisfaction that the
future you
will experience, when you have achieved a goal, motivates your investment to achieve that future state.
Status Driven Empathy
Understanding the feelings of respect and admiration (even envy) that your achievements create in others.. is a powerful driver for many people.
Dividing and sharing tasks for common advantage
A sadist needs to identify with their victim's reactions to gain satifaction from their acts.
A painography voyeur watching a slasher movie will identify with both the perpetrator and the victim as they enjoy the experience.
Individuals living in close proximity use empathy to determine...
Elephants cooperating to ensure both gain a treat
Empathy is not always positive ...
It is not always a driver of positive outcomes...
There is another side to empathy.
... to determine the limits
to which they can afford to impose on
neighbours without causing conflicts.
An example of real time collaboration where understanding the motivation of the other party and being able to coordinate activity results in gains for both.
Asynchronous cooperation = the division of labour
Humans cooperate in fantastically complicated ways by extrapolating the basics of empathy in time and space, and communicating it through commerce.
Natural Justice
Justice applied without bias
The Ultimatum Game
The Game: Player A has $100 and offers Player B a share (say $30).
If B accepts ... A gains $70 & B gains $30.
If B refuses ... both get $0.
Outcomes: On average any offer less than an 80/20 offer gets a 'No' and both loose.
Despite the fact that a strictly rational view says that even $1 for B is better than nothing.
Conclusion: Humans have an inherent sense of Fairness ... a 'justice gene'
It is Empathy that underpins the judgement of how much to offer and whether to accept the offer in the Ultimatum Game
Laws codify justice by anticipating the feelings of fairness by those affected by future events controlled by these laws.
... so what?
Measuring Empathy
The strength of empathy for the pleasure that the subject of the jealousy is experiencing = the strength of the jealousy
Without empathy pornography has no purpose
Siding with your own in-group ... the team, tribe, family, club ... species... makes it possible to prosecute the survival agenda of your genes against 'the others'.
Where we drawn the line between the in-group and the out-group can be arbritary ..
and lethal.
Roots of Empathy
technique has delivered dramatic reductions of aggression among normal young children who learn empathy this way
(in Canada, USA & Isle of Man)
Restorative Justice
Victim Awareness & Empathy

have had good results in reducing re-offending
rates for criminals
SCIT (Social Cognition & Interaction Training)
has made improvements in Empathy levels in adolescents & young adults with Autism
Empathy can be learned
The Interpersonal Reactivity Index - a self assessment tool, created in 1979 shows a reduction in Empathy in recent times... almost 75% of students in 2010 rated themselves as less empathic than the average student 30 years ago. (USA Study).
It seems strange that empathy is something so important to human civilisation...
yet is not measured!
Success in trading is about understanding what the other party wants and needs ... it is all about empathy.
An above average ability to trade well confers an survival advantage in the same way as physical strength, or disease resistance.
Understanding others needs:
Thanks for watching ... please leave a comment and say what you think . . .
@kjpsheedy on twitter
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