Another study claims we have less empathy

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ASPartOfMe
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08 Jun 2019, 4:57 am

People with autism show less empathy – which may not always be a bad thing

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A new study from the University of Bath and King’s College London concludes that people with autism show less empathy and understanding of other’s emotions.

Scientists have long debated about whether or not those with autism have difficulty processing emotion, and if so, how is this difficulty presented. These debates have also centered around alexithymia, a condition that causes “emotional blindness” in many autistic people. Those with alexithymia have a difficult time understanding their own emotions as well as others. However, it has been unclear if autistic people without alexithymia experience the same difficulty.

The study, published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, surveyed 650 adults from the general population. The research team, led by Dr. Punit Shah from Bath’s Department of Psychology, and Lucy Livingston of the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King’s College London, then observed links between autistic tendencies and alexithymia, scoring individuals on a detailed empathy-based test.

A computer model showed that autism and autistic tendencies were the more “dominant” and important links to lack of empathy in comparison to alexithymia.

Autism being linked with lower empathy is not necessarily a negative thing,” Livingston added. “Empathy is useful in social situations, but it can be a mentally tiring exercise. It is also thought that selective empathy, such as understanding some people’s feelings while ignoring others’, can lead to negative behaviours such as excluding some groups from society. It may be that lower empathy for those with autism actually has unforeseen benefits that we do not fully understand yet.”


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08 Jun 2019, 6:12 am

Well there might be some truth in it. Personally I have empathy for people going through things I've been through before, but if it's something I've never experienced I don't really feel much tbh.



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08 Jun 2019, 6:14 am

Then again a lot of NTs I know claim to have a lot of empathy for refugees and various minority groups yet treat the people around them in real life horribly. So I think some are less empathetic than they make out.



goatfish57
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08 Jun 2019, 6:25 am

KeepOn wrote:
Well there might be some truth in it. Personally I have empathy for people going through things I've been through before, but if it's something I've never experienced I don't really feel much tbh.


Well said, I am the same way. And yes, hypocrisy tends to overall compassion. There is a big difference between projecting ones feelings to others and empathizing with their condition.


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quite an extreme
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08 Jun 2019, 6:45 am

Don't get it wrong because empathy isn't compassion.
Yesterday I asked a girl whether she could teach me empathy. Was a dumb question of course. Her answer was: "You have enough empathy." WTF! The only thing she knows about me is that guys like me because I'm into having fun. But there was a thing I didn't like on her yesterday. Her otherwise bright bluy eyes were nearly dead yesterday. If the eyes are a window to the soul what on earth did happen to her? :?


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Last edited by quite an extreme on 08 Jun 2019, 6:51 am, edited 1 time in total.

goatfish57
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08 Jun 2019, 6:47 am

Yes, sympathy, compassion and empathy are different beasts.


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BlossX
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08 Jun 2019, 7:27 am

Personally I have no empathy towards anyone!! !! !! !!
at times not even my family members!!



quite an extreme
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08 Jun 2019, 8:16 am

BlossX wrote:
Personally I have no empathy towards anyone!! ! ! ! ! ! !
at times not even my family members!!

As long as your heart is where it has to be it's OK. If not than it's OK to kill ya.
May be I'm kind of extreme?


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Last edited by quite an extreme on 08 Jun 2019, 8:19 am, edited 1 time in total.

timf
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08 Jun 2019, 8:18 am

Studies like this are a poor source from which to draw conclusions for many reasons. One of which is that terms are poorly defined. Aspergers people may not be deficient in "feeling" for those who have been wronged or suffer pain or tragic circumstances. However, we may be deficient in social reflexive "empathy" such as saying "Oh, I am so sorry you feel bad" when someone mentions they have a headache.



Mona Pereth
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08 Jun 2019, 8:20 am

Here's the original journal article: Trait Autism is a Better Predictor of Empathy than Alexithym.

Note: It's not a study of people diagnosed with ASD. Rather, it looked at the statistical correlations amongst scores on three tests for a sample of people drawn from the general population. The tests were: (1) the 28-item Short Autism-Spectrum Quotient (AQS), (2) the 20-item Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20), and (3) the 31-item Questionnaire of Cognitive and Affective Empathy (QCAE).


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BlossX
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08 Jun 2019, 8:25 am

I am so angry at neurotypicals claiming that I am cold and don't feel empathy towards them!
f**k them all! we were born this way and we can't help but being like that, if you don't like that I don't care!
as long as you don't start a problem with me we are good, but if you start telling with other people that I am cold and heartless and you want to isolate me, then this is not ok to isolate me only for the way I was born!!
I am going to become violent if the NT's scum don't understand this, forever enraged!



dyadiccounterpoint
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08 Jun 2019, 8:43 am

Empathy is a loaded term that means different things.

I used to struggle immensely with cognitive empathy, or rationalizing perspectives outside of your own. I have made vast improvements in the last couple years on this, due to a lot of forced, mass social interaction and introspection on my social failures. I've also researched a lot about human behavior and motivations, which helps.

I always have, and still do, struggle with affective empathy, which appears to be what is being described in the research, the whole "sharing and communicating feelings fluidly" thing. People confuse this with compassion when it's really more like "emotional resonance." An ASD person is likely to miss this resonance because of communication and other difficulties. I suspect this is what "masking" is covering up...that behavior that would normally manifest from experiencing typical levels of affective empathy (the fake smiles and gestures which indicate interest and enjoyment of interaction). I look at this as the "struggles to feel group humor or becomes withdrawn during complex social interaction" issue. Perhaps I am defining it poorly and someone can correct me, because I see a lot of ASD people vehemently defend their experience of affective empathy as though it is the same thing as compassion and expressing sympathy. Perhaps I am making the mistake in definition.

I have a lot of compassion for suffering, which is increased by my improvements in cognitive empathy. I can fathom, to a degree, how awful life circumstances can be for others, and I feel strongly about improving the life quality of all humans. It causes me severe distress sometimes thinking about it.


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quite an extreme
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08 Jun 2019, 11:30 am

dyadiccounterpoint wrote:
I always have, and still do, struggle with affective empathy, which appears to be what is being described in the research, the whole "sharing and communicating feelings fluidly" thing. People confuse this with compassion when it's really more like "emotional resonance." An ASD person is likely to miss this resonance because of communication and other difficulties.


Sounds that you are totally like me once it comes to this. I don't stuggle with cognitive empathy as much any more since I learned eye contact. But one of the pitfalls of lacking affective empathy is that you don't get the feelings of other people towards you. Thats quite hard once it comes to start a relationship. The second thing is that your NT partner feels nearly always misunderstood.


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08 Jun 2019, 11:41 am

What about the NT people who are constantly bullying, dehumanizing, and generally treating us like garbage or some kind of tragedy? Tell me if *they* have any empathy! :x



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08 Jun 2019, 12:05 pm

Quote:
It may be that lower empathy for those with autism actually has unforeseen benefits that we do not fully understand yet

Oops - that's a bit of an ambiguous parse!

Quote:
Those with alexithymia have a difficult time understanding their own emotions as well as others. However, it has been unclear if autistic people without alexithymia experience the same difficulty.

As far as I understand it, alexithymia isn't a "condition", it's merely a descriptor of certain dimensions of personality. If the autistic people "without alexithymia" were found to have the same problems as those "with alexithymia", then by definition, they are alexithymic.


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08 Jun 2019, 12:17 pm

Trogluddite wrote:

Quote:
Those with alexithymia have a difficult time understanding their own emotions as well as others. However, it has been unclear if autistic people without alexithymia experience the same difficulty.

As far as I understand it, alexithymia isn't a "condition", it's merely a descriptor of certain dimensions of personality. If the autistic people "without alexithymia" were found to have the same problems as those "with alexithymia", then by definition, they are alexithymic.


That's my take on it too dude


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