Tuesday, June 29, 2010

We Are Less Likely To 'Feel The Pain' Of People From Other Races, A Study Suggests

"Scientists have long known that when people witness the pain of another person they often vicariously feel physical discomfort themselves. But the new evidence suggests the power of the effect depends on whether the person is the same colour as them. And the more signs of racial prejudice a person shows, the less empathy they are likely to have with other races' pain. The new evidence shows how racism feeds on itself – the lack of empathy causing greater dehumanising of others which in turn leads to more racism," reports Richard Alleyne. "In the study, with people of Italian and African descent, participants were asked to watch and pay attention to short films depicting needles penetrating a person's hand. A brain scanner then recorded how many pain neurons were firing in their brain. Researchers found there was significantly less if the person being watched was from the different race. It did not matter whether the watcher was black or white the effect was the same but it did matter if they held racial prejudices. The more racist a person, the less empathy they felt."