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The Cosmopolitan Ape: Empathy, morality, community, culture—apes can have it all!

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Steve Paulson of NPR - To the best of our KNOWLEDGE interviews Frans de Waal on chimps, bonobos & empathy - http://sco.lt/8ldZgH

The Cosmopolitan Ape: Empathy, morality, community, culture—apes can have it all!

"Humans overestimate the complexity of empathy. If you tell the average psychologist there’s empathy in animals, they will say that’s not possible. They think empathy means you consciously put yourself in the shoes of somebody else. We now know from human research that there’s a lot of empathy in automatic responses. If I’m frowning and looking sad, you’re going to frown and look sad because you will be affected by my facial emotions. If I’m laughing and smiling, you are going to laugh and smile.

That bodily connection, usually called emotional contagion, is easily demonstrable in lots of animals. We do research on yawning contagion in chimpanzees. If I’m yawning, you are going to yawn at some point. We know from human studies that it’s correlated to empathy. People who are very empathetic are also very sensitive to the yawns of others..."

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