(Press-News.org) This news release is available in German.
Children are more egocentric than adults. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig have demonstrated for the first time that children are also worse at putting themselves in other people's emotional shoes. According to the researchers, the supramarginal gyrus region of the brain must be sufficiently developed in children for them to be able to overcome their egocentric take on the world.
When little Philip rejoices at winning the prize in a game, it is almost impossible for him to understand that his best friend Tom, who has just lost, is not as jubilant. The opposite also applies. "Children are simply more egocentric," says Nikolaus Steinbeis, a researcher at the Leipzig-based Max Planck Institute, summing up the general hypothesis.
Egocentrism refers to the inability to differentiate between one's own point of view and that of other people. Egocentric people consider themselves to be the centre of all activity and assess all events and circumstances from this perspective. They project their own ideas, fears and desires onto the environment and others.
Up to now, all that the research in this area had to offer was a few theoretical ideas and studies on the development of cognitive perspective-taking. The question concerning egocentrism in connection with people's emotional states and the development of this phenomenon over the course of childhood had been largely ignored. "We currently know very little about how emotional egocentrism is expressed in childhood and about the neuronal and cognitive processes on which this is based," explains Steinbeis.
In order to compare the emotional states of different age groups, Steinbeis used an innovative game involving monetary rewards and punishments. "Earlier studies have shown that similarly strong emotional states can be triggered in both children and adults using such rewards and punishments. Children take as much delight as adults in monetary rewards and they are just as frustrated by losses," he says.
During the game, two people competed against each other without, however, being able to see each other. Equipped with a computer screen and keyboard, the test subjects were asked to demonstrate their reaction speed. The participants were informed by the screen as to whether they or their opponents could rejoice in victory or despair in defeat. They were then asked to estimate the emotions experienced by their opponents. Of principal interest was how strongly the players' own results influenced their assessments of their opponents' emotional state. For example, if, due to their own status as a winner, a participant assessed their counterpart as being happy, despite the fact that the latter had just lost the game, this indicated that the winner was egocentrically projecting their own state onto the opponent.
The results of the study reveal that adults found it easy to overcome this tendency, whereas children between the ages of 6 and 13 tended to be guided by their own emotions when assessing those of others. The ability to assess the emotions of our counterparts independently of our own emotional state improves with age. "In general, the older a child is, the better he or she will be able to put itself in the emotional position of another person," says Steinbeis, explaining the study findings.
In addition, the scientists measured the activity of different regions of the brain in MRI scanners and discovered a region that plays a crucial role in our ability to overcome our own feelings. The right supramarginal gyrus is a region of the temporoparietal junction, which is generally necessary for overcoming one's own point of view. It is strongly linked with other brain regions like the anterior insula, which is exclusively responsible for enabling us to identify with other people's emotional states. "This means that, with the right supramarginal gyrus, we have located a region which mainly functions in enabling us to overcome our own feelings," says Steinbeis. Moreover, the scientists established that, with increasing age, the cortical thickness of the nerve fibres in this area declines. This suggests that the nerve fibres are more active as we get older.
Emotional egocentrism plays a major role in many conflicts, as the inability to overcome egocentric thinking leads to inappropriate social behaviour. People affected by this condition experience rejection, which has been shown to have a negative impact on health and development. Scientists would therefore like to understand the reasons for socially detrimental behaviour and develop options for targeted intervention.
Nikolaus Steinbeis, Boris C. Bernhardt, Tania Singer
Age-related Differences in Function and Structure of rSMG and Reduced Functional Connectivity with DLPFC Explains Heightened Emotional
Egocentricity Bias in Childhood
Social Cognitive And Affective Neuroscience, 21 May 2014
Outgrowing emotional egocentricity
Max Planck researchers discover a region of the brain that enables children to overcome emotional self-centeredness as they mature
ELSE PRESS RELEASES FROM THIS DATE:
People attribute free will to mind, not soul
PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Across the board, even if they believed in the concept of a soul, people in a new study ascribed free will based on down-to-Earth criteria: Did the actor in question have the capacity to make an intentional and independent choice? The study suggests that while grand metaphysical views of the universe remain common, they have little to do with how people assess each other's behavior. "I find it relieving to know that whether you believe in a soul or not, or have a religion or not, or an assumption about how the universe works, that ...
HIV can cut and paste in the human genome
For the first time researchers have succeeded in altering HIV virus particles so that they can simultaneously, as it were, 'cut and paste' in our genome via biological processes. Developed at the Department of Biomedicine at Aarhus University, the technology makes it possible to repair genomes in a new way. It also offers good perspectives for individual treatment of both hereditary diseases and certain viral infections: "Now we can simultaneously cut out the part of the genome that is broken in sick cells, and patch the gap that arises in the genetic information which ...
'Virtual human' shows that stiff arteries can explain the cause of high blood pressure
High blood pressure is highly age-related and affects more than 1 billion people worldwide. But doctors can't fully explain the cause of 90 per cent of all cases. A computer model of a "virtual human" suggests that stiff arteries alone are enough to cause high blood pressure. "Our results suggest that arterial stiffness represents a major therapeutic target. This is contrary to existing models, which typically explain high blood pressure in terms of defective kidney function," says Klas Pettersen, a researcher at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences and first author ...
Why does bacon smell so good? (video)
WASHINGTON, May 27, 2014 — We all know bacon is delicious, but what is it about cooking bacon that makes it smell so tantalizing? In the American Chemical Society's (ACS') latest Reactions video, the team puts its nose into everyone's favorite breakfast food. We collaborated with the Compound Interest blog to break down the science of that sweet smell. The video is available at http://youtu.be/2P_0HGRWgXw Subscribe to the series at Reactions YouTube, and follow us on Twitter @ACSreactions to be the first to see our latest videos. INFORMATION: The American Chemical ...
Scientists map the worst times of day for people allergic to grass pollen
Atishoo! Help, there are flowering grasses around, please stay indoors – while your friends enjoy the nice summer weather! Traditionally, people allergic to grass pollen are advised to be aware of high pollen concentrations during the day, and to reduce their outdoor activities during this period. A new study led by researchers from Aarhus University shows that it is considerably more complicated to avoid grass pollen. Based on a three-year study with intensive measurements at three different locations in Aarhus, they divide the grass pollen season into three periods, ...
Sperm cells are extremely efficient at swimming against a current
Like salmon traveling upstream to spawn, sperm cells are extremely efficient at swimming against the current, according to research to be published this week. The discovery, to be published in the journal eLife by researchers at MIT and Cambridge University, may help us to understand how some sperm travel such long distances, through difficult terrain, to reach and fertilize an egg. Of the hundreds of millions of sperm cells that begin the journey up the oviducts, only a few hardy travelers will ever reach their destination. Not only do the cells have to swim in the ...
Attack is not always the best defense
Jena (Germany) It is something like the police force of our body: the immune system. It disables intruding pathogens, it dismantles injured tissue and boosts wound healing. In this form of 'self-defense' inflammatory reactions play a decisive role. But sometimes the body's defense mechanism gets out of control and cells or tissues are affected: "Then excessive reactions can occur and illnesses along with them," Prof. Dr. Oliver Werz of the Friedrich Schiller University Jena says. He gives asthma, rheumatism, arteriosclerosis and cancer as examples: "For many of these diseases ...
The secret cargo of mosquitoes
The parasite Dirofilaria repens is a roundworm that primarily attacks the subcutaneous tissue of dogs and causes lumps in the skin, swelling, and itching. Dogs, cats, foxes, wolves and martens can be infected in addition to dogs. "In humans, 16 cases of human dirofilariosis have been recorded since the year 2000, but the dark figure is definitely higher", says the lead author Katja Silbermayr. Humans, however, are so-called dead end hosts; the parasite does not reproduce in humans and therefore poses no major risk. Silbermayr is a veterinarian and performs research on ...
Seeing e-cigarette use encourages young adult tobacco users to light up
VIDEO: "Whether participants were exposed to someone smoking a combustible or an e-cigarette, the urge to smoke a combustible cigarette was just as high in either condition, " King said. "If the... Click here for more information. Seeing people use electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) increases the urge to smoke among regular combustible cigarettes users, according to a new study of young adult smokers. This elevated desire is as strong as when observing someone ...
Stanford researchers discover immune system's rules of engagement
A study led by researchers at Stanford's School of Medicine reveals how T cells, the immune system's foot soldiers, respond to an enormous number of potential health threats. X-ray studies at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, combined with Stanford biological studies and computational analysis, revealed remarkable similarities in the structure of binding sites, which allow a given T cell to recognize many different invaders that provoke an immune response. The research demonstrates a faster, more reliable way to identify large numbers ...
LAST 30 PRESS RELEASES:
Scientists model 'true prevalence' of COVID-19 throughout pandemic
New breakthrough to help immune systems in the fight against cancer
Through the thin-film glass, researchers spot a new liquid phase
Administering opioids to pregnant mice alters behavior and gene expression in offspring
Brain's 'memory center' needed to recognize image sequences but not single sights
Safety of second dose of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines after first-dose allergic reactions
Changes in disparities in access to care, health after Medicare eligibility
Use of high-risk medications among lonely older adults
65+ and lonely? Don't talk to your doctor about another prescription
Exosome formulation developed to deliver antibodies for choroidal neovascularization therapy
Second COVID-19 mRNA vaccine dose found safe following allergic reactions to first dose
Plant root-associated bacteria preferentially colonize their native host-plant roots
Rare inherited variants in previously unsuspected genes may confer significant risk for autism
International experts call for a unified public health response to NAFLD and NASH epidemic
International collaboration of scientists rewrite the rulebook of flowering plant genetics
Improving air quality reduces dementia risk, multiple studies suggest
Misplaced trust: When trust in science fosters pseudoscience
Two types of blood pressure meds prevent heart events equally, but side effects differ
New statement provides path to include ethnicity, ancestry, race in genomic research
Among effective antihypertensive drugs, less popular choice is slightly safer
Juicy past of favorite Okinawan fruit revealed
Anticipate a resurgence of respiratory viruses in young children
Anxiety, depression, burnout rising as college students prepare to return to campus
Goal-setting and positive parent-child relationships reduce risk of youth vaping
New research identifies cancer types with little survival improvements in adolescents and young adul
Oncotarget: Replication-stress sensitivity in breast cancer cells
Oncotarget: TERT and its binding protein: overexpression of GABPA/B in gliomas
Development of a novel technology to check body temperature with smartphone camera
The mechanics of puncture finally explained
Extreme heat, dry summers main cause of tree death in Colorado's subalpine forests[Press-News.org] Outgrowing emotional egocentricity
Max Planck researchers discover a region of the brain that enables children to overcome emotional self-centeredness as they mature