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The Psychology of Storytelling and Empathy, Animated — PsyBlog


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In a series of experiments in his lab, Paul Zak has shown that when watching a short, sad story about a father and son, two interesting neurochemicals are produced:

  1. Cortisol–which people feel as distress and encourages them to pay attention to the story.
  2. Oxytocin–which promotes connection and care and encourages people to feel empathy.

After experiencing the story, people who produced the most oxytocin were the most likely to give money to others they couldn’t see.

The molecule seemed to make them more generous (Zak et al., 2007).

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