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Do Animals have Empathy? A presentation on the Empathetic Abilities of Animals with Dr. Loren Martin

  • Friday, April 29, 2016
  • 11:00 AM
  • Friday, April 29, 2022
  • 12:30 PM
  • Recorded Webinar


  • Member registration
  • Public registration


With Dr. Loren Martin

CEUs: PPAB 1.5, IAABC 1.5, CPDT 1.5, KPA 1.5

Empathy is an important psychological construct that involves the ability to recognize and share emotions with others. For many, the term empathy evokes thoughts of higher-order cognitive behaviors, and it is surprising to many that signs of empathy are evident in species other than humans and nonhuman primates. The ability to share emotional states relies on a perception-action mechanism that includes mimicry and emotional contagion. The ability to mimic another’s emotional or physical state is essential for successful social interactions and is found in a number of animal species. In studies of empathy, pain is often used as a stimulus because it is universally understood and easy to measure. We have used pain to show that lower mammals, such as mice, have the capacity for empathy while others have used social observational fear learning as a proxy to measure empathetic behaviors. This webinar will highlight studies that examine empathy in animal species ranging from mice to dogs to elephants and will detail some of the biological machinery that engages empathy behaviors in animals. Studying empathy in animals may prove useful in fully understanding the neurobiological processes of empathy-related behaviors and in a sense animal-related empathy represent a basic form of social communication that appears to be a conserved social behavior among mammals.

Webinar Objectives

  • Upon completion of this session, attendees will be able to discuss the different components of empathy in the context of pain across different species
  • Upon completion of this session, attendees will be able to discuss the physiological underpinnings that block empathy and methods for empathy-enhancement

About The Presenter

Dr. Loren Martin

His work has shown that processes such as empathy are negatively affected (in mice and humans) by increased social stress and his lab currently studies the underlying biological mechanisms of empathy and prosocial behaviours (using both animal and human subjects).

Dr. Loren Martin is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology with a primary appointment on the Mississauga campus. Previously, he was a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Jeffrey Mogil at McGill University. He obtained his PhD from the University of Toronto in 2009. He recently joined the University of Toronto Mississauga in January 2015.

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