There are many reasons for scholars to investigate empathy. Empathy plays a crucial role in human social interaction at all stages of life; it is thought to help motivate positive social behavior, inhibit aggression, and provide the affective and motivational bases for moral development; it is a necessary component of psychotherapy and patient-physician interactions. This volume covers a wide range of topics in empathy theory, research, and applications, helping to integrate perspectives as varied as anthropology and neuroscience.
In recent decades, empathy research has blossomed into a vibrant and multidisciplinary field of study. The social neuroscience approach to the subject is premised on the idea that studying empathy at multiple levels (biological, cognitive, and social) will lead to a more comprehensive understanding of how other people's thoughts and feelings can affect our own thoughts, feelings, and behavior.
This collection of essays by a group of distinguished social neuroscientists provides the reader with an engaging overview of this emerging multidisciplinary and collaborative field. In the twentieth century, the arbitrary barrier between neuroscience and social psychology was reinforced by the specialized knowledge required by each field and an emphasis on scientific work in isolation from other disciplines; the biological and social perspectives on mind and behavior developed for the most part independently of each other.
A full understanding of the biology and behavior of humans cannot be complete without the collective contributions of the social sciences, cognitive sciences, and neurosciences. This book collects eighty-two of the foundational articles in the emerging discipline of social neuroscience.