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Expanding Empathy Lecture Series: Brock Bastian

Lecture title: "Motivational Bias in Empathy for Animals: Understanding the Role of Need Satisfaction and Mind Perception." Hosted by the Rock Ethics Institute’s Moral Agency and Moral Development Initiative—which is convened by C. Daryl Cameron, assistant professor of psychology in Penn State’s College of the Liberal Arts—the Expanding Empathy lecture series provides a window into understanding when, why, and how people decide to have empathy and concern and to help other people.
by David Price Feb 24, 2021
When Mar 17, 2021
from 3:30 PM to 5:00 PM
Where Virtual (Zoom)
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Motivational Bias in Empathy for Animals:
Understanding the Role of
Need Satisfaction and Mind Perception




Brock Bastian

Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences
University of Melbourne


Abstract: In this talk I will examine some of the motivated biases that our research has uncovered when it comes to our empathy for others. Specifically, I will discuss work on the meat-paradox, which seeks to uncover the motivated reasoning that many people engage in order to overcome conflict between their moral concern for animal welfare and their own desire to consume meat. A key pathway through which people resolve this conflict is by downplaying the mental lives of the animals they eat. Drawing from this insight, I will discuss implications for understanding motivations underlying prejudice more broadly, and specifically cases of dehumanization and objectification. While our prejudice towards others may be driven by fear, anxiety and trepidation, it may sometimes also be driven by appetitive or approach-motivated states.   

Brock Bastian is a social psychologist whose research focuses on pain, happiness, and morality. In his search for a new perspective on what makes for the good life, Brock Bastian has studied why promoting happiness may have paradoxical effects; why we need negative and painful experiences in life to build meaning, purpose, resilience, and ultimately greater fulfilment in life; and why behavioural ethics is necessary for understanding how we reason about personal and social issues and resolve conflicts of interest. His first book, The Other Side of Happiness, was published in January 2018.

This talk will be presented as a Zoom webinar. PLEASE REGISTER BY CLICKING HERE!