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Group identity is a little irrational

April 6, 2009

Scientific proof at last, that group identity is a little irrational – humans empathize with their own more than with others, even on the literal physical level!

Political champions of your ideology are more likely to be seen as more attractive to humans  than champions of a different ideology. Okay no big surprise there. But the study shows that humans are likely to physically empathize with their ideological champion!

Not just that but humans are more likely to physically empathize with their own race – for example, if a “caucasian human” see a video of another caucasian human’s face being touched, he or she is more likely to feel that touch on their own face (provided there is some sort of physical thing touching their face that they won’t normally feel), than if this caucasian human was looking at a non-caucasian face being touched.

Perhaps this is a factor in the social outcry Arabs feel when Palestinians are seen being persecuted by Israelis… and vice versa.

The irony though, is that humans are convinced that they arrived at their political ideology through rationality – through so-called “objective evaluation”. Perhaps they did – more studies need to be done on that. But the scientific study does expose an irrational factor in group identity.

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From → Science News

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