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1829 Talk: What are the Origins of Empathy?

Friday 7 February 2020.

With Jake Brooker and Diane Austry, Durham University

Empathy, the ability to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, is a core feature of what it means to be human. It is central to the human experience, from our social and romantic lives to engaging with politics and marketing in our wider society. However, we know little about the extent to which we share such abilities with our closest living relatives, the great apes. Our research has taken us to the miombo woodland in Zambia and Congolese forest to investigate how chimpanzees and bonobos experience and respond to the emotions of others. To do so, we observed conflict prevention and resolution, as well as underlying physiological mechanisms measured using thermal-imaging technology. Our projects aim to extend our knowledge of what it means to be a social and emotional creature in a complex society.

Watch the talk here

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