Empathy is the secret ingredient that makes cooperation – and civilization – possible

This article by Arunas L. Radzvilavicius originally appeared in The Conversation

Justification for more reading and theater – all the arts – SA. But where do these cooperative skills come from and why don’t our selfish instincts overwhelm them? Using a branch of mathematics called evolutionary game theory to explore this feature of human societies, my collaborators and I found that empathy – a uniquely human capacity to take another person’s perspective – might be responsible for sustaining such extraordinarily high levels of cooperation in modern societies. … This is when my colleagues and I decided to modify our models to give individuals the capacity for empathy – that is, the ability to make their moral evaluations from the perspective of another person. We also wanted individuals in our model to be able to learn how to be empathetic, simply by observing and copying personality traits of more successful people.

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