Category: Publications

My papers.

Empathy, prosocial behavior and adjustment: clinical aspects of surfeits and deficits in concern for others

Empathy, prosocial behavior and adjustment: clinical aspects of surfeits and deficits in concern for others

Prosocial behaviours provide benefit to others. They include sharing, help, comfort, protection and defense of others, and related traits of kindness and generosity. These adaptive behaviours reflect social-emotional competence. Prosocial actions evoked by others’ distress are often motivated by feelings of empathy/sympathy and a desire to alleviate their suffering. Under some circumstances these feelings and actions can be maladaptive. Some psychiatric disorders and psychological problems are characterized, in part, by extremes of empathy, both surfeits and deficits that undermine the capacity to care for others in a healthy manner. The study of extremes can provide insights into processes associated with different forms of psychopathology.

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Citation

Zahn-Waxler, C., & Schoen, A. (2015). Empathy, prosocial behavior and adjustment: clinical aspects of surfeits and deficits in concern for others. In Tremblay, R.E., Boivin, M., & Peters, R.D., (Ed.) Encyclopedia of Early Childhood Development: Prosocial Behaviour.
Anterior insula recovery to pain and altruistic redistribution in an economic decision paradigm

Anterior insula recovery to pain and altruistic redistribution in an economic decision paradigm

We are currently analyzing data from a large, longitudinal and cross-sectional study of the effects of meditation. The motivation for this study includes a theoretical framework where the effects of meditation may be mediated by changes in cognitive processes related to the perception and cognition of the “self”. One component of this study examines the effects of meditation on altruistic economic decisions, while another component examines the effects of meditation on pain perception. Thus, the study originally hypothesized that meditation would change self-related cognitive and neural processes, and this change would lead to changes in altruistic economic decisions, as well as changes in pain perception. However, this inspired consideration of the possibility that there may be a natural individual-differences relationship between those two behaviors. As a secondary exploratory analysis, we tested for a cross-sectional baseline relationship between individuals’ degree of altruism/compassion in real economic decisions, and their self-reported ratings of pain, as well as BOLD FMRI activation in pain-related brain areas. As a preliminary, exploratory analysis, to limit multiple-comparison concerns, we limited our analysis to an ROI pre-defined based on functional and anatomical considerations, in the right anterior insula, contralateral to the site of pain stimulation.

Citation

Perlman, D. M., Weng, H., Schoen, A., Fox, A., Kral, T., Cayo, A., et al. (2012). Anterior insula recovery to pain and altruistic redistribution in an economic decision paradigm. Poster for the Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroeconomics.