rock-band-empathyIt seems that the world does not have that much empathy to go around these days, and the question that begs to be asked is this – is there a solution to this dilemma? It seems that the journal Current Biology has published a story on how to solve the lack of empathy issue – it could be as simple as picking up Rock Band and to “jam” with the rest of your mates – or strangers, even.


In this study, which was headed by McGill University psychology professor Jeffrey Mogil, it compared reactions of undergraduate college students to a painful stimulus which were delivered by submerging an arm in ice water. Pain reactions were measured from those who were alone, and with a friend; with a stranger; with a stranger when both had been given a stress-blocking drug; as well as a stranger when both of them had just rocked it out in a session of Rock Band.

Pain reactions remained the same for those who were alone or with a stranger, although should the subject sitting across be a friend, they actually felt more pain. Mogil shared, “It would seem like more pain in the presence of a friend would be bad news, but it’s in fact a sign that there is strong empathy between individuals — they are indeed feeling each other’s pain.”

One group of students did spend some time playing Rock Band with strangers before the ice water challenge, where a quarter of an hour playing together saw strangers exhibit a level of empathy toward each other during the experiment. If you were to rock it out solo on Rock Band, empathy did not increase.

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