Expanding Empathy Lecture Series: Brock Bastian

Expanding Empathy Lecture Series: Brock Bastian
Mar 17, 2021
– 5:00PM

Motivational Bias in Empathy for Animals:
Understanding the Role of
Need Satisfaction and Mind Perception

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.

Image of Brock Bastian Expanding Empathy flyer

Topic(s): General, Global Issues, Health, Public Life
Image of Brock Bastian
Brock Bastian