Student: Empathy and Research Essay

Submitted By Jordan-Summers
Words: 2874
Pages: 12

Research Project B Assessment Type 3 Evaluation The words shaded in yellow on the student work provide evidence to support the assessment decision with reference to the Performance Standards. The comments and words shaded in pink are the commentary provided at implementation workshops to illustrate the elements of an Evaluation. Is empathy a function of the brain which can be manipulated Summary of the research question and outcome My research project question was inspired by a trip to India last year. From this experience I questioned how unwilling society was to eradicate social calamities, particularly poverty, and why some people were more inclined to act on issues of injustice than others. As I researched I discovered that empathy is a neurobiological function of the brain, particularly the left inferior frontal gyrus. I was able to correlate that neurobiological function was connected to the mirror neuron system, and is enhanced when life experiences stimulate an emotional response. I proved this through the application of two surveys which measured empathy levels. My outcome is in the form of a report explaining the results of my research. The key finding of my research is that empathy is not a static measurement but is dependent on age, gender and education, and is able to be manipulated and enhanced over time. (148 words) Evaluation In order to begin refining what was a broad topic I conducted extensive reading of online journals and articles to gain a greater understanding. The research process of literature review helped me refine my topic, think more deeply about the concepts and challenge my initial assumptions. For example, Zaki in his article published in Scientific American titled What me care Young are less empathetic blamed the effects of technology on society or our lack of a tribal community for our lack of empathy. In contrast an article by Wein on the National Institutes of Health website titled Rats show empathy too presented a completely new angle. My initial idea that empathy was a quality restricted only to humans was challenged. This raised important questions within my research as to whether empathy was simply an emotion, or in fact a function of the brain. Many of the articles I had built my understanding of empathy on conflicted with other sources so it became important for me to cross reference my research. It was through doing this that my investigation could be further refined, finding that empathy could be enhanced by ones mirror neuron system. It was from researching this that my inquiries led me to the Oxford Brain Journal which discussed how the mirror neuron system functioned and hence validated earlier sources. Not only was the content of this study pivotal for augmenting my understanding of how age, gender and education dictated ones ability to empathise, but it acted as the catalyst to the development of the qualitative research. In order to vary the types of research I used for this project I decided to conduct some qualitative tests for empathy on some of my peers to determine whether the results supported the claims of the academic articles or not. I was able to access a large number of psychological tests on the internet including The Balanced Emotional Empathy Scale (BEES), Basic Empathy Scale (BES), the Toronto Empathy Questionnaire (TEQ) and the Yawning Test. My research indicated that many of these tests have weaknesses and can be misinterpreted. For example the Yawning Test is based on the premise that in a group of people, if one person yawns, the first person to catch the yawn would be the most empathic. I think there needs to be greater research to determine whether this test provides valid or credible results and consequently I dismissed it as a valid test for my purposes. However, one consistent aspect of the results of all of the tests is that empathy is higher in females than males and this is something I would like to test. Having reviewed the descriptions of these