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"A New Model of Empathy: The Rat"

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posted on Mar, 27 2014 @ 07:22 PM
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I really have no idea where to put this post so please move if needed! And it may have been posted before (i did a quick search and found nothing)

I stumbled on an interesting article today (from 2011) about Rats and how they appear to show empathy. I thought it might be interesting to share:

Linky : www.washingtonpost.com...

The video actually shows a Rat letting out another Rat from a container of sorts. Presumably similar to ones used for experimentation? It's actually really interesting to watch the video and find out how the Rats seemed to free each other for no reward and no reason other than..... Empathy?

I question it of course, as in the video's case the rat opens up the container and runs in itself. Is this really empathy? Or is it merely jealousy and wanting what the other Rat has? Hahaha.

The idea of empathy, as explained in the link is often thought to relate only to mammals. A theory which i think is probably wrong anyway.. and perhaps this study goes someway to suggesting being a Rat might be a lot more than some first thought. And maybe us mammals, specifically humans, aren't the only ones to have these types of feelings?

So what do you guys think? Empathy? Are our feelings so unique to mammals or of course, humans?

Just an interesting thing i found. Again, sorry if you've read before (i'm sure many have as it's not new)
edit on 27-3-2014 by MrConspiracy because: (no reason given)

edit on 27-3-2014 by MrConspiracy because: (no reason given)




posted on Mar, 27 2014 @ 07:51 PM
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Very interesting study and video. Thanks for sharing. I agree with your statement that a variety of non-mammals have the ability to exhibit empathy to varying degrees. However, I also do believe that mammals possess a greater ability to show empathy as opposed to organisms from other classes. That said, rats are mammals.



posted on Mar, 27 2014 @ 07:59 PM
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When I was a kid I used to trap mongooses at my grandfather's farm in the summer using a simple box trap. One summer I was driven nuts because my trap would continually be tripped but there would never be a mongoose in it.

I hid and watched to see what was going on. About 5 minutes after I had set the trap a mongoose came out of the rock wall, went straight to the back of the trap (where the string trigger was) without entering the trap (where the juicy bacon was), and pulled the string off of the nail which held the bait, tripping the trap.

So, what was going on? Was this guy just getting a kick out of the noise or something? Was he protecting his less brilliant kin by preventing them from entering the trap? What ever it was, he had no interest in the bacon.

Beats me...but it put an end to my mongoose trapping.
edit on 3/27/2014 by Phage because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 27 2014 @ 08:34 PM
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I saw a documentary a few years ago ( I don't remember at all what was its name... :/ ), but it was about artificial intelligence, one expressed virtually, and the other through robots.

In the experiments, both entities behaved pretty much the same way biological entities do. There were attacks, jealousy, theft, cooperation, you name it.
I then understood that with consciousness came the whole range of emotions and the different wiring of the brains of different species will allow more or less the expression of any given emotions.

That is my personal conclusion.
If you ever had a pet, you will know they too feel emotions, even if they are not mammals, like birds, for example.



posted on Mar, 27 2014 @ 11:15 PM
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MrConspiracy
The idea of empathy, as explained in the link is often thought to relate only to mammals. A theory which i think is probably wrong anyway.
Why and how do you think it's wrong? I don't recall seeing the behavior outside of mammals, exactly though the responses of insects like bees and ants to sacrifice themselves to protext their queen seem selfless if not empathic.

One interesting comment from the link is this:

A major question that needs to be answered next is whether the free rat liberates the captive one to relieve its own stress or the stress of the other animal.

“It’s more likely to be the former,” Mogil said. “But even if it is the former, I’m not sure that’s so different from humans.”
My thoughts are that apparently empathic behavior is ultimately selfish...for whatever reason it makes most of us us feel good to help someone else and it is for this personal somewhat selfish gain that the empathic behavior occurs. The question of exactly WHY it makes us feel good to help someone else probebly needs further research, but I suspect it's tied up in evolutionary pressures somehow.

Organisms that help their progeny survive may have a tendency to be more successful on evolutionary terms if these efforts help more offspring survive, so this helping others as a survival mechanism for out offspring would be selected genetically by evolution. Once we have the inclination to help our own offspring, it's not hard to imagine how an ability to help others outside our family may result though this may not be specifically selected by evolution.

Another case in point to consider is the behavior of male lions who take over a pride and may kill the existing cubs which are not their genetic offspring. There is little evidence of empathy in this act; it's more likely a trait selected by evolution to further one's own offspring and to not devote too many scarce resources to further the offspring of genetically unrelated male lions.



posted on Mar, 27 2014 @ 11:36 PM
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reply to post by MrConspiracy
 


My money's on a horny rat.




posted on Mar, 28 2014 @ 10:33 AM
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reply to post by Arbitrageur
 


Wrong may not have been the best word to use. Misguided maybe? I don't think it's wise for us to suggest only mammals show empathy etc... Maybe it's true, but studies like this may go someway to suggesting otherwise.



posted on Mar, 28 2014 @ 10:38 AM
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My thoughts are that apparently empathic behavior is ultimately selfish...for whatever reason it makes most of us us feel good to help someone else and it is for this personal somewhat selfish gain that the empathic behavior occurs. The question of exactly WHY it makes us feel good to help someone else probebly needs further research, but I suspect it's tied up in evolutionary pressures somehow.

Organisms that help their progeny survive may have a tendency to be more successful on evolutionary terms if these efforts help more offspring survive, so this helping others as a survival mechanism for out offspring would be selected genetically by evolution. Once we have the inclination to help our own offspring, it's not hard to imagine how an ability to help others outside our family may result though this may not be specifically selected by evolution.

Another case in point to consider is the behavior of male lions who take over a pride and may kill the existing cubs which are not their genetic offspring. There is little evidence of empathy in this act; it's more likely a trait selected by evolution to further one's own offspring and to not devote too many scarce resources to further the offspring of genetically unrelated male lions.


There's also little evidence of empathy in many of man's actions. It doesn't count for the entire population. But i'm with you all the way with the argument that empathy is selfish to an extent. I don't think it's a selfish deed to help someone out. But i can certainly understand the "i did good" feeling may be considered selfish.

So you think the Rat helped the other one to feel better about itself or as an act of survival of their species?



posted on Mar, 28 2014 @ 10:41 AM
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Phage
When I was a kid I used to trap mongooses at my grandfather's farm in the summer using a simple box trap. One summer I was driven nuts because my trap would continually be tripped but there would never be a mongoose in it.

I hid and watched to see what was going on. About 5 minutes after I had set the trap a mongoose came out of the rock wall, went straight to the back of the trap (where the string trigger was) without entering the trap (where the juicy bacon was), and pulled the string off of the nail which held the bait, tripping the trap.

So, what was going on? Was this guy just getting a kick out of the noise or something? Was he protecting his less brilliant kin by preventing them from entering the trap? What ever it was, he had no interest in the bacon.

Beats me...but it put an end to my mongoose trapping.
edit on 3/27/2014 by Phage because: (no reason given)


That's interesting! It's almost as if the mongoose knew exactly was going to happen. It does make you wonder if it was indeed helping it's fellow population or it was just doing it to wind you up..... Lol



posted on Mar, 28 2014 @ 12:07 PM
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MrConspiracy
So you think the Rat helped the other one to feel better about itself or as an act of survival of their species?
Not that rats can think, but to personify the probably subconscious "thought process" I think it would be something like:

"The behavior of that other rat is really getting on my nerves. Maybe if I do a little something for him, he'll stop that annoying behavior, thus giving me some peace and making me feel better"

Not that this is scientific, but like phage's story it's an anecdote, two of them actually, about rats killing each other:

Why did my rats kill each other?

I guess that doesn't prove they lack empathy since humans can also kill each other and show empathy, though usually not simultaneously.



posted on Mar, 29 2014 @ 02:05 PM
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Arbitrageur

MrConspiracy
So you think the Rat helped the other one to feel better about itself or as an act of survival of their species?
Not that rats can think, but to personify the probably subconscious "thought process" I think it would be something like:

"The behavior of that other rat is really getting on my nerves. Maybe if I do a little something for him, he'll stop that annoying behavior, thus giving me some peace and making me feel better"

Not that this is scientific, but like phage's story it's an anecdote, two of them actually, about rats killing each other:

Why did my rats kill each other?

I guess that doesn't prove they lack empathy since humans can also kill each other and show empathy, though usually not simultaneously.


Hahahahaha. "The other rat in that tube won't shut up, i'll just let him out and he might shut up"

I like it. Maybe this rat was just a really sensitive rat. We're all different, who's to say rats aren't?

I don't even like rats. Their tails are wack.
edit on 29-3-2014 by MrConspiracy because: (no reason given)




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