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Front Psychol. 2012 Oct 17;3:389. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00389. eCollection 2012.

Behavioral investigation of the influence of social categorization on empathy for pain: a minimal group paradigm study.

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Laboratoire de Neurosciences Fonctionnelles et Pathologies, UFR de Médecine, Université de Picardie Jules Verne Amiens, France ; Laboratoire de Psychologie et Neurosciences: Intégration Cognitive du Neurone à la Société, Université de Rouen Mont-Saint-Aignan, France ; Structure Fédérative de Recherche en Santé CAP-Santé, Université de Picardie Jules Verne, Amiens and Université de Reims-Champagne-Ardennes Reims, France.


Research on empathy for pain has provided evidence of an empathic bias toward racial ingroup members. In this study, we used for the first time the "minimal group paradigm" in which participants were assigned to artificial groups and required to perform pain judgments of pictures of hands and feet in painful or non-painful situations from self, ingroup, and outgroup perspectives. Findings showed that the mere categorization of people into two distinct arbitrary social groups appears to be sufficient to elicit an ingroup bias in empathy for pain.


empathy for pain; ingroup bias; minimal group paradigm; social categorization

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