Empathy as cultural process : insights from the cultural neuroscience of empathy
Cheon, Bobby K.
Mathur, Vani A.
Chiao, Joan Y.
Date of Issue2010
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
In recent years, explorations of the neural correlates of empathy have been a rapidly growing and exciting area of discovery in social neuroscience. These studies have provided the foundations for understanding the neurobiological processes that allow us to experience and understand the pain and suffering of others. Here we draw upon findings from social and cultural neuroscience to explore how affordances and constraints to social perception and cognition provided by the cultural environments may shape the processes that underlie empathy. Specifically, we examine the dimensions of empathy and their respective neural substrates, and how shared cultural experiences or perceived similarity may facilitate empathic processing at both the subjective and neurobiological levels. Our review also examines emerging research examining the potential role of cultural perceptions of the self and relations with others on the psychological and neural processes of empathy. We conclude by suggesting how insights from a cultural neuroscience of empathy may inform clinical practice.
World cultural psychiatry research review
© 2010 World Association of Cultural Psychiatry (WACP). This paper was published in World Cultural Psychiatry Research Review and is made available as an electronic reprint (preprint) with permission of World Association of Cultural Psychiatry (WACP). The paper can be found at the following official URL: [http://www.wcprr.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/vol.5-n.-1-4.pdf]. One print or electronic copy may be made for personal use only. Systematic or multiple reproduction, distribution to multiple locations via electronic or other means, duplication of any material in this paper for a fee or for commercial purposes, or modification of the content of the paper is prohibited and is subject to penalties under law.