Prosocial Primates: Empathy in Animals and Humans

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010
Frans de Waal

Knight Auditorium, Spurlock Museum 600 South Gregory Street Urbana

Event Description

Frans de Waal shows how empathy comes naturally to a great variety of animals, including humans. In his work with monkeys and apes, de Waal has found many cases of one individual coming to another's rescue in a fight, putting an arm around a previous victim of attack, or other emotional responses to the distress of others. By studying social behaviors in animals, such as bonding, the herd instinct, the forming of trusting alliances, expressions of consolation, and conflict resolution, de Waal demonstrates that animals — and humans — are preprogrammed to reach out, questioning the assumption that humans are inherently selfish. He argues that understanding empathy's survival value in evolution can help to build a more just society based on a more accurate view of human nature.

WILL-AM FOCUS interview with Frans de Waal.

Frans de Waal

Department of Psychology, Emory University