Saturday, June 28, 2014

How universal is empathy?


 
Bronislaw Malinowski with natives on the Trobriand Islands (1918 - source). Pro-social behavior seems to be a human universal, but is the same true for full empathy?
 

What is empathy? It has at least three components:

- pro-social behavior, i.e., actions of compassion to help others

- cognitive empathy, i.e., capacity to understand another person's mental state

- affective or emotional empathy, i.e., capacity to respond with the appropriate emotion to another person's mental state (Chakrabarti and Baron-Cohen, 2013)

In their review of the literature, Chakrabarti and Baron-Cohen (2013) conclude that all three components are moderately to highly heritable, although the affective component seems to show the highest heritability (68%). This is in line with Davis et al. (1994), who found significant heritability for the affective facets of empathy (empathic concern and personal distress) but not for non-affective perspective taking.

All three components can vary from one individual to another, although studies to date have focused on pathological variation:

For example, it is suggested that people with psychopathic personality disorder may have intact cognitive empathy (hence being able to deceive others), but impaired affective empathy (hence being able to hurt others), whilst people with autism may show the opposite profile (hence finding the social world confusing because of their deficit in cognitive empathy, but not being over-represented among criminal offenders, having no wish to hurt others, suggesting their affective empathy may be intact) (Chakrabarti and Baron-Cohen, 2013)


People with depression may suffer from too much empathy, i.e., being too sensitive to the needs or distress of others (O'Connor et al., 2007). In short, these disorders seem to be the tail ends of a normal distribution. By focusing on these extremes, we forget that most of the genetic variability in empathy occurs among healthy individuals (Gillberg, 2007). 

Using research findings on autism and Asperger syndrome, Chakrabarti and Baron-Cohen (2013) have identified nine candidate genes that seem to promote empathy. They fall into three functional categories: sex-steroid synthesis and metabolism; neural development and connectivity; and social-emotional responsivity. The first category includes the degree to which a fetus is androgenized or estrogenized before birth, as shown by digit ratio (Frost, 2014).
 

Variation among human populations

If the genes associated with empathy vary among healthy individuals, do they also vary among human populations? This would be expected because populations have differed in their needs for different components of empathy, particularly since hunting and gathering gave way to farming some 10,000 years ago—when genetic change speeded up over a hundred-fold. At that time, humans were no longer adapting to new physical environments. They were adapting to new cultural environments that differed in social structure, in division of labor, in means of subsistence, in norms of conduct, in future time orientation, in degree of sedentary living, and so on. Our ancestors were now reshaping their environments, and these human-made environments were now reshaping them—in other words, gene-culture co-evolution (Hawks et al., 2007).

Humans have been transformed especially by the shift from small bands of hunter-gatherers to larger and more complex groups of farmers and townsfolk. With social relations expanding beyond the circle of close kin, kinship obligations were no longer enough to ensure mutual assistance and stop free riding. There was thus selection for pro-social behavior, i.e., a spontaneous willingness to help not only kin but also non-kin.

Pro-social behavior is attested across a wide range of cultures. It is the subject of a recent book about the nature and limits of empathy in Oceanic cultures. The Banabans of Fiji for instance express the idea of pro-sociality through the term nanoanga, which they normally translate into English by "compassion" or "pity."

[...] compassion is the basis for their capacity to bond socially with others, even compassion to the point of readiness to take strangers into their community. Their empathy therefore relates causally to how they act socially toward others. Here compassion or pity embraces both understanding and fellow feeling: the islanders understand that the stranded mariner is at the end of his strength, which is why they succor him and treat him as one of their own. They understand him because he, like them, is a human being, a person. [...] Thus, for example, when someone passing by a house does not belong to the immediate family of those inside, it is customary to welcome the passer-by by calling out the words mai rin! (Come in!), which carry the implication that food and drink will not be found wanting inside. (Hermann, 2011, p. 31)


This desire to help non-kin is not unconditional. The author notes that prior experiences with an individual in distress can determine whether compassion will be given or withheld. Moreover, Barnabans can "proceed strategically when deciding whether to extend trust to others or to keep thoughts and feelings to themselves" (Hermann, 2011, p. 31). This is not the affective empathy of entering another person's mind to feel his or her pain.
 
When the Barnabans compare themselves with others, and when by their behavior toward the stranger they show that they understand him and feel with him, they do not, however, equate themselves fully and entirely with him. (Hermann, 2011, p. 32)

 
Another contributor to the same book writes similarly about the inhabitants of Vanatinai, in the Trobriand Islands.
 
On the island of Vanatinai, when someone, including an ethnographer, privately asks a trusted confidant, "Why did she/he act like that?" "What was she/he thinking?" the common answer, often uttered in tones of puzzlement and despair, or anxiety and fear, expresses one of the islanders' core epistemological principles: "We cannot know their renuanga." Renuanga is a word that refers to a person's inner experiences, both and inseparably thought and emotion.

 
[...] And their psychic states, their inner thought and feelings, are inherently unknowable. It may never be clear why they were angry or sympathetic, and what caused them to act and influence an event in someone's life [...] (Lepowsky, 2011, p. 44)

 
In short, Oceanic cultures display hospitality but not full empathy, which would be considered undesirable anyway:

The philosophical principle of personal opacity, the interiority of others' thoughts/feelings (renuanga), is closely bound to the islanders' fierce insistence on personal autonomy, both as cultural ideology and as daily social practice (Lepowsky, 2011, p. 47)

 

From pro-sociality to full empathy

Whereas pro-sociality is attested across a wide range of cultures, full cognitive/affective empathy is more localized. The difference is like the one we see between shame and guilt. Most cultures primarily use shame to enforce correct behavior, i.e., if other people see you breaking a rule, you feel ashamed and this feeling is reinforced by social disapproval. In contrast, only a minority of cultures—largely those of Northwest Europe—rely primarily on guilt, which operates even when only you see yourself breaking a rule or merely think about breaking a rule (Benedict, 1946; Creighton, 1990).

Northwest Europeans have thus undergone two parallel changes in behavioral control: 1) a shift from pro-sociality to full cognitive/affective empathy; and 2) a shift from shame to guilt. Indeed, full empathy and guilt may be two sides of the same coin. Both are the consequences of a mental model that is used to simulate how another person thinks or feels (an imaginary witness to a wrongful act, a person in distress) and to ensure correct behavior by inducing the appropriate feelings (anguish, pity).

Finally, full empathy and guilt are most adaptive where kinship ties are relatively weak and where rules of correct behavior require a leveling of the playing field between kin and non-kin. This has long been the case in Northwest Europe. There seems to be a longstanding pattern of weak kinship ties west of a line running from Trieste to St. Petersburg, as shown by several culture traits that are rare or absent elsewhere:

- relatively late marriage for men and women

- many people who never marry

- neolocality (children leave the family household to form new households)

- high circulation of non-kin among different households (typically young people sent out as servants) (Hajnal, 1965)

Commonly called the Western European Marriage Pattern, this geographic zone of relatively weak kinship was thought to have arisen after the Black Death of the 14th century. There is now good evidence for its existence before the Black Death and fragmentary evidence going back to 9th century France and even earlier (Hallam, 1985; Seccombe, 1992, p. 94). Historian Alan Macfarlane likewise sees an English tendency toward weaker kinship ties before the 13th century and even during Anglo-Saxon times (Macfarlane, 2012; Macfarlane, 1992, pp. 173-174).

This weak kinship zone may have arisen in prehistory along the coasts of the North Sea and the Baltic, which were once home to a unique Mesolithic culture (Price, 1991). An abundance of marine resources enabled hunter-fisher-gatherers to achieve high population densities by congregating each year in large coastal agglomerations for fishing, sealing, and shellfish collecting. Population densities were comparable in fact to those of farming societies, but unlike the latter there was much "churning" because these agglomerations formed and reformed on a yearly basis. Kinship obligations would have been insufficient to resolve disputes peaceably, to manage shared resources, and to ensure respect for social rules. Initially, peer pressure was probably used to get people to see things from the other person's perspective. Over time, however, the pressure of natural selection would have favored individuals who more readily felt this equivalence of perspectives, the result being a progressive hardwiring of compassion and shame and their gradual transformation into empathy and guilt (Frost, 2013a; Frost, 2013b).

Empathy and guilt are brutally effective ways to enforce social rules. If one disobeys these internal overseers, the result is self-punishment that passes through three stages: anguish, depression and, ultimately, suicidal ideation.

People suffering from depression are looking at both others and themselves with suspicion, often believing whatever they have was obtained by cheating, and that it is more than they deserve. Depressives, burdened by moralistic standards, are harsh evaluators of both themselves and others. The self-punishment meted out by depressives is a common if disturbing symptom; while thinking 'I deserve this', they may engage in altruistic punishment turned upon the self. Just as altruistic punishers experience a neuronally based reward from punishing defectors, despite material costs, depressed patients report a sense of relief upon inflicting self-punishment. Patients who are 'cutters', describe relief from tension after cutting and depressives with suicidal ideation may describe the relief they felt when on the verge of attempting a suicidal action. (O'Connor et al., 2007, p. 67)


This pathology is progressively less common in populations farther south and east, not so much because each stage is less common but rather because depression is much less likely to result from empathic guilt and much less likely to lead to suicide (Stompe et al., 2001). This 3-stage sequence does not seem to be a human universal, at least not to the same extent as in Northwest Europeans, a reality that Frantz Fanon noted when describing clinical depression in Algerians: 

French psychiatrists in Algeria found themselves faced with a difficult problem. When treating a melancholic patient, they were accustomed to being afraid of suicide. The melancholic Algerian kills, however. This disease of the moral conscience that is always accompanied by self-accusation and self-destructive tendencies assumes hetero-destructive forms in the Algerian. The melancholic Algerian does not commit suicide. He kills. (Fanon, 1970, pp. 219-220)

 

References

Benedict, R. (1946 [2005]). The Chrysanthemum and the Sword. Patterns of Japanese Culture, First Mariner Books. 

Chakrabarti, B. and S. Baron-Cohen. (2013). Understanding the genetics of empathy and the autistic spectrum, in S. Baron-Cohen, H. Tager-Flusberg, M. Lombardo. (eds). Understanding Other Minds: Perspectives from Developmental Social Neuroscience, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
http://books.google.ca/books?hl=fr&lr=&id=eTdLAAAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA326&ots=fHpygaxaMQ&sig=_sJsVgdoe0hc-fFbzaW3GMEslZU#v=onepage&q&f=false  

Creighton, M.R. (1990). Revisiting shame and guilt cultures: A forty-year pilgrimage, Ethos, 18, 279-307.
http://sfprg.org/control_mastery/docs/revisitshameguilt.pdf

Davis, M.H., C. Luce, and S.J. Kraus. (1994). The heritability of characteristics associated with dispositional empathy, Journal of Personality, 62, 369-391.

Fanon, F. (1970). Les damnés de la terre, Paris: Maspero. 

Frost, P. (2013a). The origins of Northwest European guilt culture, Evo and Proud, December 7
http://evoandproud.blogspot.ca/2013/12/the-origins-of-northwest-european-guilt.html 

Frost, P. (2013b). Origins of Northwest European guilt culture, Part II, Evo and Proud, December 14
http://evoandproud.blogspot.ca/2013/12/origins-of-northwest-european-guilt.html  

Frost, P. (2014). A pathway to pro-social behavior, Evo and Proud, May 10.
http://evoandproud.blogspot.ca/2014/05/a-pathway-to-pro-social-behavior.html

Gillberg, C. (2007). Non-autism childhood personality disorders, in: T.F.D. Farrow and P.W.R. Woodruff (eds). Empathy in Mental Illness, (pp. 111-125). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hajnal, J. (1965). European marriage pattern in historical perspective. In D.V. Glass and D.E.C. Eversley (eds). Population in History, Arnold, London.

Hallam, H.E. (1985). Age at first marriage and age at death in the Lincolnshire Fenland, 1252-1478, Population Studies, 39, 55-69. 

Hawks, J., E.T. Wang, G.M. Cochran, H.C. Harpending, & R.K. Moyzis. (2007). Recent acceleration of human adaptive evolution. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA), 104, 20753-20758.
http://harpending.humanevo.utah.edu/Documents/accel_pnas_submit.pdf

Hermann, E. (2011). Empathy, ethnicity, and the self among the Barnabans in Fiji, in D.W. Hollan, C. J. Throop (eds).The Anthropology of Empathy: Experiencing the Lives of Others in Pacific Societies, (pp. 25-42), New York: Berghahn.

Lepowsky, M. (2011). The boundaries of personhood, the problem of empathy, and "the native's point of view" in the outer islands, in D.W. Hollan, C. J. Throop (eds).The Anthropology of Empathy: Experiencing the Lives of Others in Pacific Societies, (pp. 43-68), New York: Berghahn. 

Macfarlane, A. (1992). On individualism, Proceedings of the British Academy, 82, 171-199.
http://www.alanmacfarlane.com/TEXTS/On_Individualism.pdf  

Macfarlane, A. (2012). The invention of the modern world. Chapter 8: Family, friendship and population, The Fortnightly Review, Spring-Summer serial
http://fortnightlyreview.co.uk/2012/07/invention-8/

O'Connor, L.E., J.W. Berry, T. Lewis, K. Mulherin, and P.S. Crisostomo. (2007). Empathy and depression: the moral system in overdrive, in: T.F.D. Farrow and P.W.R. Woodruff (eds). Empathy in Mental Illness, (pp. 49-75). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 
http://www.eparg.org/publications/empathy-chapter-web.pdf

Price, T.D. (1991). The Mesolithic of Northern Europe, Annual Review of Anthropology, 20, 211-233.
http://www.cas.umt.edu/departments/anthropology/courses/anth254/documents/annurev.an.TDouglasPrice1991MseolithicNEurope.pdf

Seccombe, W. (1992). A Millennium of Family Change. Feudalism to Capitalism in Northwestern Europe, London: Verso.

Stompe, T., G. Ortwein-Swoboda, H.R. Chaudhry, A. Friedmann, T. Wenzel, and H. Schanda. (2001). Guilt and depression: a cross-cultural comparative study, Psychopathology, 34, 289-298.

33 comments:

Whyvert said...

Peter, this is slightly off topic, but a quick search tells me you haven't discussed blushing in the past. Maybe a topic for a future post since lightness of skin would make this signal more apparent.

Sean said...

Brilliant.

Juoni said...

What peoples of present day Europe are included into this Nortwestern guilt culture?

Luke Lea said...

Interesting, as always. Where would Adam Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments fit into this. As I recall, not just sympathy, but also the desire for approbation was a controlling motivation. Is that a matter of shame or guilt or something else?

And then how do you explain something like this:

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2011/10/toddler-struck-twice-by-hit-and-run-drivers-dozens-ignore-her/

Beyond Anon said...

What about Asians? How do they fit into this scheme.

A Chinese acquaintance tells me that his aged parents live in the ChinaTown portion of a big city and that his aged father has difficulty crossing the streets and will sometimes fall.

He says that only whites will rush to his father's help. Other Chinese will just ignore his father's plight.

Anonymous said...

hunter-fisher-gatherers

Isn't the genetic evidence looking more and more like these hippies being violently replaced by patriarchal, tribal Indo-European warriors who took kinship and lineages very seriously?

Anonymous said...

What about Asians? How do they fit into this scheme.

Well they're not Northwest Europeans. That's not really the question with respect to this scheme.

The real question would be where things like the Holocaust, ethnic cleansing, colonial expansions, imperial rule, etc. which did not appear to involve universal empathy would fit in in this scheme. Of course these examples have been turned into such cliches by now by liberals that we don't even consider them anymore, but presumably they are facts that would have to fit in somehow with this scheme.

If we look at imperial history, for example, it's not clear that the Northwest Europeans demonstrated more universal empathy than the Latin or Southern Europeans, who tended to be more accommodating in many ways of the foreigners they encountered.

Erwin Schmidt said...

Hello Mr. Frost,

Perhaps the following paper is of interest for you:
http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi/10.1371/journal.pone.0098217;jsessionid=594912E58EA24B18414B175FB69C82C6

Anonymous said...

"The real question would be where things like the Holocaust, ethnic cleansing, colonial expansions, imperial rule, etc. which did not appear to involve universal empathy would fit in in this scheme"

I'm sure the proponent of this theory can somehow explain them away.

"They're qualitatively different from these smaller-scale similar phenomena, you see."


Anthropology-as-joke.

Anonymous said...

"He says that only whites will rush to his father's help."

"The real question would be where things like the Holocaust, ethnic cleansing, colonial expansions, imperial rule, etc. which did not appear to involve universal empathy would fit in in this scheme"


Percentages.

Anonymous said...

Percentages.

Percentages of what? Obviously we're not looking at percentages here and trying to even come up with percentages to compare could be difficult.

Stephen said...

Why would pro social guilt based behavior increase in a in an out bred society with lots of non kin. This seem back to front in a more out bred society group selection would be less and genes for more selfish behavior would have the advantage. Surely you have the cause and effect back to front a population witch already has been bred for pro social behavior would allow a out bred culture to form. Such instincts would of presumably been bred in during a a close nit tribal stage when there was a combination of strong group selection and too many eyes and ears to get away with anything.

Gottlieb said...

I have a different explanation for the relationship, outbreeding and empathy. When a population leave to marry within their families, there will be a greater internal genetic diversification. This begins to build individuals. Ie, people who consider themselves different, unique, compared to the other. Individuals unlike clans, know they are genetic lonely, unconsciously. As a result, they understand that they need to cooperate with others, who will also be a individuals. And they consider as such.
Pathological altruism of liberal Europeans, is the result of the individual's perspective. A world composed of individuals, made ​​to individuals and where there is not foreigners, authority or boundaries. The man with no trace of his persona Animalia.
An example. Liberals are against authority of parents over their children's choices regarding love relationships. Why?
Because your children are individuals, just as they and empathy of liberal parents, makes them understand that their children are prevented from loving whomever they wish, it is an affront to the hyper-rationalist liberal mind. It is irrational to stop them to love who they want.
Every individual must cooperate because he is lonely without cooperation with others, regardless of their origins, after all, they are individuals, this feeling of loneliness will become real and extremely damaging.

Every individual is egocentric because it is considered as a single person (I read in neuropolitics that white liberals are more genetically diverse). Your empathy for others, is the result of their own self externalization in the skin of another.

I will not do what I would be done with me.

Beyond Anon said...

Perhaps two examples of gene-culture co-evolution.

1. Genetic genocide: How primitive porridge made Celts top Scots

The theory is that the G men's reliance on a diet of roots, fruits, berries and meat meant their infants - whose milk teeth would struggle to chew this material - had to be breastfed much longer. This reduced the rate at which the women could bear offspring.

In comparison, the R1b lineages were expert at growing cereal crops and knew how to mash dried oats and barley into a nutritious "primitive porridge" which could be spoon-fed to babies, weaning them much earlier.


2. In southern China, they feed rice gruel to their kids, also allowing mothers to get busy with having another child or work in the paddies etc.

So, in each case, and perhaps also with lactase persistence, more children survive allowing such populations to outbreed their competitors.

Anonymous said...

"Percentages of what? Obviously we're not looking at percentages here"

I think it's always about percentages. You don't get an entire population thinking one way and another entire population thinking a completely different way. It's a balance of percentages of different types of people with tipping points and the currently dominant group imposing their view with sanctions.

It doesn't have to be a majority either. You might get a ruling group with one dominant view and the majority with a different view. I'd say this is the case in the west currently. The upper middle class whites are far more liberal and universal minded than the rest but still dominate even though a minority.

For example the point made above about only white people going to help the Chinese guy get up. It won't be 100% of white people and 0% of Chinese but a) a large enough percentage of white people to notice the disparity and b) enough of a percentage of white people for doing it not to be seen as odd and c) a small enough percentage of Chinese for those naturally inclined to do it to stop because they don't want to look odd.

.

"and trying to even come up with percentages to compare could be difficult."

this is very true

Anonymous said...

@Stephen

"Why would pro social guilt based behavior increase in an out bred society with lots of non kin."

If you out breed from an initially homogenous but more inbred group the result aren't non-kin. In that context out breeding creates lots more but more loosely related kin.

example

option 1)
valley with 8 endogamous villages. everyone in each village is roughly 2nd cousin to everyone else in their village and 8th cousin to the people in the other villages.

option 2)
same valley with the 8 villages out breeding leading to everyone in the valley being on average 4th cousin to everyone else in the valley.

a different *pattern* of relatedness might change the optimal pattern of pro-social behavior.

.

ego =
2 brothers
8 1st cousins
32 2nd cousins
128 3rd cousins
etc

(I wonder if Dunbar's numbers are connected to this in some way?)

Peter Fros_ said...

Whyvert,

I’ll touch on blushing in my next post (in relation to shame).

Juoni,

Guilt seems to be more important west of the Hajnal line. It’s probably best to think of Northwest European guilt culture as a clinal trait that diminishes progressively as one goes south and east.

Luke,

The desire for moral approbation is the flip side of shame, i.e., it’s mediated by what others think. Adam Smith understood that the free market economy required a high-trust environment where people respect each other and sympathize with each other. What he calls sympathy seems to correspond to empathy in modern English, i.e., a natural tendency to care about the well-being of others.

Adam Smith also considered this “sympathy” to be a natural tendency that exists even in "the greatest ruffian, the most hardened violator of the laws of society.” In this, he was woefully naïve, but his naïveté seems to be the norm among free market libertarians.

As for the news item, empathy is clearly on the decline in modern America, just as the free market economy is on the decline. The desire for plunder is replacing the desire for honest trade.

Beyond Anon,

China is a “shame culture.” In China, people will help others for two main reasons: 1) a desire for a reciprocal helping relationship and 2) fear of shaming, if the person in need of help is a relative.

Anon,

No, Northwest Europeans are largely descended from Mesolithic hunter-fisher-gatherers. The decline of haplogroup U was due to selection and not population replacement.

Anon,

“The real question would be where things like the Holocaust, ethnic cleansing, colonial expansions, imperial rule, etc. which did not appear to involve universal empathy would fit in in this scheme”

Those “things” fit very nicely. Empathy does not mean unconditional love for everybody. If a person is perceived to be morally worthless (i.e., a free rider or a “rule breaker”), that person will be expelled from the group or even killed. This is something that empathic people enjoy doing. “Altruistic punishers experience a neuronally based reward from punishing defectors, despite material costs.” In the past, foreigners were routinely considered to be moral outsiders. They could not be full members of the moral community because they would pursue their own interests at the expense of everyone else’s.

Over the past century, we have seen a dramatic reversal of this rule that foreigners are moral outsiders. The rule itself has been deemed immoral, and people who support it are deemed to be moral outsiders. Indeed, the insult “dirty racist” has taken over the same mental space that was formerly reserved for racial/ethnic insults. This point has been made by Pierre-André Taguieff:

“… over the last thirty years of the 20th century, the word “racism” became an insult in everyday language (“racist!” “dirty racist!”), an insult derived from the racist insult par excellence (“dirty nigger!”, “dirty Jew!”), and given a symbolic illegitimating power as strong as the political insult “fascist!” or “dirty fascist!”. To say an individual is “racist” is to stigmatize him, to assign him to a heinous category, and to abuse him verbally […] The “racist” individual is thus expelled from the realm of common humanity and excluded from the circle of humans who are deemed respectable by virtue of their intrinsic worth. Through a symbolic act that antiracist sociologists denounce as a way of “racializing” the Other, the “racist” is in turn and in return categorized as an “unworthy” being, indeed as an “unworthy” being par excellence. For, as people say, what can be worse than racism?”

Stephen,

Because free riders eventually tend to overwhelm altruists. Empathy for non-kin can only arise in a society where social groups are continually forming and reforming, i.e., the haystack model.

Anonymous said...

Peter, I was watching Wimbledon yesterday and I was surprised to see that the crowd was overwhelmingly fair or brown/red haired. I don't think I've seen those sort of people en masse since before I discovered your work. And it struck me what an effective signalling system it is, and how, it relies on being many in number, for that effectiveness.

I wondered whether, despite the time factor, the secondary-sex signalling system was the first step on the way to empathy. In gene-culture evolution many traits evolve concurrently. Traits and their 'tectonics' are not necessarily directly inter-connected but surely each trait outcome has the potential to impact on other trait evolution?

Could the secondary-sex signalling system be the first step towards being able to identify other people by something other than clan membership? Could multi-variate hair and eye colour be a first step on the road to individualism?

Kate

spagetiMeatball said...

"No, Northwest Europeans are largely descended from Mesolithic hunter-fisher-gatherers. The decline of haplogroup U was due to selection and not population replacement."

Well, partially yes. As those people weren't entirely killed off. But hapblogroup ratios, ancient DNA analysis and archaeology tells us this is not true. Also ancient europeans were terrible and savage to each other as bronze-age death pits and roman and greek testimony reveal to us.

Obviously the decrease of social friction is much more recent, within the past 2,000 years.

Ancient europeans were just as savage and cruel as other humans.

Anonymous said...

No, Northwest Europeans are largely descended from Mesolithic hunter-fisher-gatherers. The decline of haplogroup U was due to selection and not population replacement.

Well, I think Cochran thinks differently.

B&B said...

Nothing connects the different kinds of empathy to the exclusion of any other part of the human 'social brain's' workings during socialisation.

The construct of empathy ought to be scrapped as unsupportable.

Anonymous said...

B&B said "Nothing connects the different kinds of empathy to the exclusion of any other part of the human 'social brain's' "

Does that make empathy an emergent property?

Juoni said...

Nothing to do with this topic but:

As fas as I'm concerned the average IQ of Arabs nowadays is somewhere around 90. How is it possible that they created and maintained such a high level of culture during the so-called Dark Ages?

Is it possible (or even likely) that their IQ has declined since? If so, what would be the cause?

Anonymous said...

"Is it possible (or even likely) that their IQ has declined since? If so, what would be the cause?"

slave trade

Christian said...

"- affective or emotional empathy, i.e., capacity to respond with the appropriate emotion to another person's mental state (Chakrabarti and Baron-Cohen, 2013)"

In psychotherapy a distinction is often drawn between empathy and sympathy.

Empathy is used to mean actually feeling the same emotions that the other is feeling, so if they are sad you are sad, if they are angry you are angry, if they are in pain then you feel the same pain. It's perhaps something like resonating together.

Sympathy is used more to refer to a particular range of your own feelings in response to what the other is feeling, thus I might feel sad that you are angry again, or I might feel worried about you.

Sympathy without evident empathy can be experienced as condescension, and it does not convey the same sort of emotional connection.

Juoni said...

"Is it possible (or even likely) that their IQ has declined since? If so, what would be the cause?"

slave trade



The castrated their black slaves so I doubt it.

Juoni said...

*They

Anonymous said...

"The castrated their black slaves so I doubt it."

The Arab slave trade in Africa was mostly young boys and *women*.

B&B said...

Anonymous,
No, it makes empathy an invalid construct. The usage of the word 'empathy' ought to be either restricted to emotional empathy or else abandoned.

szopeno said...

"How is it possible that they [Arabs] created and maintained such a high level of culture during the so-called Dark Ages?"

They invaded rich lands with very high level of culture - that gave them very good start. It's not like they invented everything and created something from nothing. That then they were invaded from two sides, which created a cultural backslash, could be considered a factor.

Anonymous said...

slave trade

Arabs of the Levant have around about 6-7% African admixture.

That would, alone, drop "IQ" about 6-7% of one standard deviation, which in IQ terms would be 6/100*15 = 0.9 IQ points. Or if you reckon the gap with Africans is around 20 points, 1.2 points.

Pretty trivial compared to a small amount of natural selection.

Anonymous said...

Those “things” fit very nicely. Empathy does not mean unconditional love for everybody. If a person is perceived to be morally worthless (i.e., a free rider or a “rule breaker”), that person will be expelled from the group or even killed. This is something that empathic people enjoy doing. “Altruistic punishers experience a neuronally based reward from punishing defectors, despite material costs.” In the past, foreigners were routinely considered to be moral outsiders. They could not be full members of the moral community because they would pursue their own interests at the expense of everyone else’s.

Over the past century, we have seen a dramatic reversal of this rule that foreigners are moral outsiders. The rule itself has been deemed immoral, and people who support it are deemed to be moral outsiders.


I don't necessarily disagree with everything here.

However, ultimately it's not that foreigners would pursue their own interests that they weren't part of the moral community. Foreigners weren't part of the moral community because it was recognized that simply by being genetically foreign, they had fundamentally different interests, regardless of whether or not they would pursue them. Empathy was reserved for the in-group, and not universalized to out-groups.

We have not actually seen a dramatic reversal of this rule that foreigners are moral outsiders. What we have actually seen over the past century is people being indoctrinated to believe that foreigners effectively don't exist in the first place. People have been indoctrinated to believe that race, ethnicity, etc. don't exist and are merely social constructs, that 2 people of the same race are more genetically different than 2 people of different races, etc. Since there are no foreigners, there are no moral outsiders. People don't actually believe that foreigners aren't moral outsiders. What they've been led to believe is that they aren't really foreign, hence aren't moral outsiders. When formerly liberal whites who had been convinced by "science" that foreigners didn't really genetically exist read HBD or racialist literature and discover that genetic foreigners do indeed exist, they tend to revert to the older way of recognizing genetic foreigners, hence recognizing them as out-groups and thus as moral outsiders.

Anonymous said...

Those “things” fit very nicely. Empathy does not mean unconditional love for everybody. If a person is perceived to be morally worthless (i.e., a free rider or a “rule breaker”), that person will be expelled from the group or even killed. This is something that empathic people enjoy doing. “Altruistic punishers experience a neuronally based reward from punishing defectors, despite material costs.”

Yes, empathy doesn't mean unconditional love for everybody. But those "things" aren't examples of empathy towards in-group members or policing of in-group members by altruistic punishment, but of empathy not being extended towards out-groups.