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

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


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.

Keywords: empathy for pain; ingroup bias; minimal group paradigm; social categorization.