People tend to empathize more readily with those who look and act like themselves, but this selectiveness is not innate says a new study.

I recently stumbled across a fascinating piece in the New York Times discussing empathy experiments with rats. According to researchers, when a rat with white fur was raised only among rats with black fur, it would come to the aid of a drowning rat with black fur but not one with white fur. A white rat reared among both white and black rats would rescue rats of either color. In other words, empathy in these rats could be triggered based on their life experiences.

At ARC, our mission is to “turn on” empathy in children that extends towards all living creatures. We bring together animals and children to make the connection that something doesn’t have to look the same to have the same feelings?. We believe – and this study suggests – that empathy can serve as a moral guide for our world. Developing empathy helps extinguish cruelty in all forms — not just for the benefit of people who are or seem like us, but for the benefit of our world. 

Read more about “turning on” empathy in lab rats here:

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