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PIT


The empathy impulse: A multinomial model of intentional and unintentional empathy for pain.
Cameron, C. Daryl; Spring, Victoria L.; Todd, Andrew R.
 Apr 2017, 395-411

Abstract
Empathy for pain is often described as automatic. Here, we used implicit measurement and multinomial modeling to formally quantify unintentional empathy for pain: empathy that occurs despite intentions to the contrary. We developed the pain identification task (PIT), a sequential priming task wherein participants judge the painfulness of target experiences while trying to avoid the influence of prime experiences.

 Using multinomial modeling, we distinguished 3 component processes underlying PIT performance: empathy toward target stimuli (Intentional Empathy), empathy toward prime stimuli (Unintentional Empathy), and bias to judge target stimuli as painful (Response Bias).
  •  In Experiment 1, imposing a fast (vs. slow) response deadline uniquely reduced Intentional Empathy.
  •  In Experiment 2, inducing imagine-self (vs. imagine-other) perspective-taking uniquely increased Unintentional Empathy. 
  • In Experiment 3, Intentional and Unintentional Empathy were stronger toward targets with typical (vs. atypical) pain outcomes, suggesting that outcome information matters and that effects on the PIT are not reducible to affective priming. Typicality of pain outcomes more weakly affected task performance when target stimuli were merely categorized rather than judged for painfulness, suggesting that effects on the latter are not reducible to semantic priming.
  •  In Experiment 4, Unintentional Empathy was stronger for participants who engaged in costly donation to cancer charities, but this parameter was also high for those who donated to an objectively worse but socially more popular charity, suggesting that overly high empathy may facilitate maladaptive altruism. 
Theoretical and practical applications of our modeling approach for understanding variation in empathy are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved



New way to test empathy uses painful images
March 30th, 2017
Posted by Matt Swayne-Penn State
“How do you know someone is feeling empathy? You could just ask them but they might be motivated to respond in a certain way…”

"Psychologists have developed new tests and mathematical models to help capture and quantify the snap moral and empathetic judgments we make all the time, such as when seeing footage from a war-ravaged country. Certain situations could trigger instant moral and empathetic assessments, even when they were directed to counteract those feelings, according to a series of studies looking at people’s intuitive moral judgments and empathic responses.

“The studies were really sparked by this big picture question: How do people morally react to the world around them?” says Daryl Cameron, who directs the Empathy and Moral Psychology Laboratory as an assistant professor of psychology and a research associate in the Rock Ethics Institute at Penn State."



Tests can help quantify automatic empathy and moral intuitions
Matt Swayne
March 29, 2017

"The studies were really sparked by this big picture question: How do people morally react to the world around them?" said Daryl Cameron, who directs the Empathy and Moral Psychology Laboratory as an assistant professor of psychology and a research associate in the Rock Ethics Institute, Penn State. "Although many theories focus on reasoning as an important part of moral life, within psychology in the past two decades, a lot of new theories have been developed that point to the central importance of intuitive reactions in our moral lives."



Gut check: Researchers develop measures to capture moral judgments and empathy
March 29, 2017
C. Daryl Cameron

"A new measure of moral judgment
Rather than asking people what they think is moral, or how much empathy they feel, our work attempts to assess people’s immediate, spontaneous reactions before they have had much time to think at all. In other words, we examine how people behave to get a sense for their moral reactions.

For example, consider the new task that my collaborators and I developed to measure people’s gut reactions that certain actions are morally wrong. Gut reactions have been thought by many psychologists to play a powerful role in moral decision-making and behavior."




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