Daryl Cameron is a social psychology doctoral candidate at
UNC Chapel Hill. "I work at the crossroads of social psychology and
philosophy. My research examines the relationship between implicit social
cognition and moral decisions: how do automatic affective reactions and
deliberative reasoning interact to shape our moral lives?" Daryl's research focuses on the causes and consequences of compassion regulation;
and how implicit emotional processes contribute to moral decision-making.
"Psychological studies show that people feel more compassion for a
single victim than for multiple victims, a finding that has been
called "the collapse of compassion." The collapse of compassion should
strike you as shocking. Most people predict that they would --
and should -- feel more compassion if more people are suffering. Yet
people's emotional responses to actual victims tell otherwise. "
Daryl says, one way to increase empathy and compassion is
to make helping easy and not overwhelming. Create small easy steps that
people can do. Also develop trainings that build empathy and
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"An essay in this week’sNew
that we don't have enough empathy to go around. But new research says we
can keep renewing and expanding our feeling for others.
Is empathy a limited resource, easily depleted and
restricted to those closest to us? That’s the argument psychologist Paul
Bloom makes in an essay for this week’sNew
case against empathy.” He admits that
empathy can do a lot of good: decades of research show that feeling
empathy can lead us to be more caring, forgiving, and altruistic.
But according to Bloom, empathy also can do a lot of bad. It’s an
untrustworthy moral compass because it is “parochial, narrow-minded, and
innumerate.” Empathy seems tuned to only one frequency, that of a single
identifiable victim, with whom we feel some personal connection.
According to Bloom, these biases make empathy ill-suited to help us
confront crises like natural disasters, genocides, and climate change.
Bloom concludes, “Empathy will have to yield to reason if humanity is to
have a future.”
"Compassion is a
powerful moral emotion—it moves us to care for the suffering of others,
and enables us to live cooperatively with one another.
Yet we live in a society of constant connection, in which the successes
and sorrows of others are brought to us instantly through phones,
computers, TV, radio, and newspapers. With that increased connection
comes the risk of becoming overwhelmed or overburdened by our emotions.
Fearing exhaustion, we turn off our compassion.
But my research suggests we can actually expand our compassion bandwidth
without hurting ourselves. As the science of compassion develops, we can
find empirically supported ways to cultivate and sustain compassion when
it is needed the most."
hen a stranger asks for money, people choose not to give for a variety
of reasons, even if their hearts want to -- perhaps they're not sure
what the money will be used for, or perhaps they'd rather give to an
organization that helps people in need. Or maybe they just don't want to
part with their cash.
Psychological studies show that people feel more compassion for a single
victim than for multiple victims, a finding that has been called"the
collapse of compassion."The
collapse of compassion should strike you as shocking. Most people
predict that they would -- andshould--
feel more compassion if more people are suffering. Yet people's
emotional responses to actual victims tell otherwise. Imagine reading
about either a single victim or eight victims. Experiments find that
compassion doesn't simply level off with more victims -- so it's not
that adding seven victims to the single victim increases compassion only
a little bit. Instead, adding seven victims makes you feellesscompassion
compared to just one. Compassion plummets as the numbers increase.
2:15pm - 3:15pm - The Costs of Compassion and Callousness
Compassion is a powerful moral emotion that often compels us to help
others in need. Yet we often avoid feeling compassion in the pursuit of
self-interested goals. In this talk, I will examine factors that
motivate people to avoid feeling compassion for others, and how
compassion avoidance changes how people think about morality.
Daryl Cameron, social psychology graduate student at the University of
North Carolina at Chapel Hill