Empathy: Its ultimate and proximate bases

Behavioral and Brain Sciences 25 (1):1-20 (2001)

Abstract
There is disagreement in the literature about the exact nature of the phenomenon of empathy. There are emotional, cognitive, and conditioning views, applying in varying degrees across species. An adequate description of the ultimate and proximate mechanism can integrate these views. Proximately, the perception of an object's state activates the subject's corresponding representations, which in turn activate somatic and autonomic responses. This mechanism supports basic behaviors that are crucial for the reproductive success of animals living in groups. The Perception-Action Model, together with an understanding of how representations change with experience, can explain the major empirical effects in the literature. It can also predict a variety of empathy disorders. The interaction between the PAM and prefrontal functioning can also explain different levels of empathy across species and age groups. This view can advance our evolutionary understanding of empathy beyond inclusive fitness and reciprocal altruism and can explain different levels of empathy across individuals, species, stages of development, and situations. Key Words: altruism; cognitive empathy ; comparative; emotion; emotional contagion; empathy ; evolution; human; perception-action; perspective taking
Keywords altruism   cognitive empathy   comparative   emotion   emotional contagion   empathy   evolution   human   perception-action   perspective taking
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Reprint years 2002
DOI 10.1017/s0140525x02000018
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References found in this work BETA

Does the Chimpanzee Have a Theory of Mind?David Premack & G. Woodruff - 1978 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 4 (4):515-629.
What is It Like to Be a Bat.Thomas Nagel - 1974 - E-Journal Philosophie der Psychologie 5.
Primate Cognition.Amanda Seed & Michael Tomasello - 2010 - Topics in Cognitive Science 2 (3):407-419.

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Citations of this work BETA

The Empathic Brain: How, When and Why?Frederique de Vignemont & Tania Singer - 2006 - Trends in Cognitive Sciences 10 (10):435-441.
Motion, Emotion and Empathy in Esthetic Experience.David Freedberg & Vittorio Gallese - 2007 - Trends in Cognitive Sciences 11 (5):197-203.

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