Dr Zanna Clay

The evolution and development of empathy: insights from our great ape cousins (Dr Zanna Clay, Durham University)

1:00pm - 2:00pm / Thursday 22nd October 2020
Type: Webinar / Category: Department
  • Admission: Free. Register and attend via Zoom.
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Empathy – the sharing and understanding others’ emotions and thoughts – is a defining feature of what it means to be human. Although empathy appears to have deep evolutionary roots, we lack knowledge about its evolutionary and developmental origins. In this talk, Zanna discusses research from her lab that investigates evidence for empathy and its development in our closest living relatives, the bonobos and chimpanzees. Results suggest that the core building blocks for empathy may already be present in early life in both great apes and humans, but that its development and expression in both human and non-human apes is affected by rearing background and other factors. Overall, results highlight the importance of the comparative approach for gaining a richer understanding the evolution and development of complex socio-emotional and cognitive capacities, including empathy.