Prosocial Primates: Empathy in Animals and Humans
Knight Auditorium, Spurlock Museum 600 South Gregory Street Urbana
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.
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Department of Psychology, Emory University