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date: 24 June 2021

Abstract and Keywords

“Compassion” and “empathy” refer to adaptive emotional responses to suffering in oneself and others that recruit affective and cognitive processes. The human ability to understand the emotional experience of others is fundamental to social cooperation, including altruism. While much of the scientific study of compassion and empathy suggests that genes contribute to empathy and compassion, recent empirical advances suggest gene–environment interactions, as well as cultural differences in development, influence the experience, expression, and regulation of empathy and compassion. The goal of this chapter is to review recent theoretical and empirical advances in the cultural neuroscience of empathy and compassion. Implications of the cultural neuroscientific study of empathy and compassion for public policy and population health disparities will be discussed.

Keywords: cultural neuroscience, culture-gene evolutionary theory, compassion, empathy, social identity, universality

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