Regis College Senior Honors Program
Thesis - Open Access
Number of Pages
As the Neuroscientific world continues to examine this concept, my thesis explores cognitive and affective empathy within the context of neural processing pathways and as a motivation for prosocial helping behaviors. Is one better than the other? How do we explore this in research? This thesis includes empathetic theory, as well as behavioral research which explores affective empathy in a rat model, abstract below.
Empathy is an emotion that often instigates prosocial actions, so research increasingly focuses on the biological basis of this quality. Because affective empathy develops before the cognitive regulation components, lower order mammalian species should be able to express empathy in an affective perspective. A rat model of empathy has been developed, showing that a free rat in an arena with a restrained conspecific will act prosocially and open the door of the restrainer. This study explores affective isomorphy as a criterion of affective empathy, by placing the free rats in the restrainer prior to being the free rat in the testing arena. The control condition rats did not experience the previous restraint. Number of door openings and latency to door openings were measured in 60 minute testing sessions. No significant effect of condition was found for number of door openings or latency to door openings. We conclude that affective isomorphy may strengthen empathetic behaviors.
Date of Award
© Morgan Nitta
All content in this Collection is owned by and subject to the exclusive control of Regis University and the authors of the materials. It is available only for research purposes and may not be used in violation of copyright laws or for unlawful purposes. The materials may not be downloaded in whole or in part without permission of the copyright holder or as otherwise authorized in the “fair use” standards of the U.S. copyright laws and regulations.
Nitta, Morgan, "Affective Empathy: Exploring Prosocial Behavior in Neuroscience" (2013). Regis University Student Publications. 597.