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Can emotions such as empathy be taught?

This is Science Today. About half of our emotional profile is genetically passed down from our parents...but what about the other half? Dacher Keltner, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley says emotions such as compassion and empathy can also be taught. Keltner directs UC Berkeley's Greater Good Science Center, an interdisciplinary research center devoted to translating the hard science behind emotions such as happiness and compassion and disseminating their findings to the general public through outreach.

Keltner:          The Greater Good Science Center and our lab are very interested in building up compassionate tendencies and we know, for example, studying pictures of the human face for an hour builds up your empathy reading skills or emotion reading skills. That's amazing. Meditation changes brain chemistry toward more compassionate settings. Parents who do the hard work of talking to kids about hurting other feelings and telling stories at bedtime about empathy and compassion raise more compassionate kids. Emersion in nature is, some science shows, a way to build up empathy.

Narrator:       For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.