“People close to us become a part of ourselves, and that’s not just metaphor or poetry — it’s very real.”
Don’t worry. We gotchu.
So psychologist James Coan led a study at the University of Virginia that showed how we humans are actually hardwired to have empathy for our friends. And not just empathy like “I get a little down when you’re a little down.”
Much. More. Intense.
Coan’s study of over 22 functional magnetic resonance brain scans 🙌 observed people’s brain activity in a few scenarios:
While under the threat of receiving mild electrical shocks to themselves
While under the threat of receiving mild electrical shocks to strangers
While under the threat of receiving mild electrical shocks to friends
What did they find?
The brain activity in the regions of the brain responsible for threat response totally went nuts while participants were receiving threat to themselves (um hello and duh) but even more fascinatingly (believe it or not, this is a legit word) — the brain activity that participants experienced when their friends were under threat — was nearly identical to when participants were receiving the threat themselves.
Are you shocked? (oh you’re not … well, maybe your friend is #seewhatwedidthere?)
Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “I feel ya.”