Meet lab member Nicholas Walker

Lab member Nicholas Walker is a McNair Scholar.  Nick is investigating neural mechanisms that may influence the fundamental attribution error.

Nick Walker

From the abstract of Nick’s project, entitled Reducing the Fundamental Attribution Error by Manipulating the Mirror Neuron System“:

“The Fundamental attribution error (FAE), or the tendency to overestimate dispositional factors and underestimate situational factors while explaining another`s behavior, has been shown to be reduced through training in cognitive empathy. I am interested in the mechanism that is accountable for empathy and how manipulating this mechanism may help in the reduction of the FAE. The mirror neuron system (MNS) has been proposed as a mechanism for empathy. The MNS is a brain network in humans that has been shown to be active both during the performance and the observation of the same action, and during both the experience of emotion and the observation of emotion in others.  Thus, the MNS may provide a neural mechanism for empathizing with others. Socially mirrored actions, which putatively engage the MNS of participants, are known to increase the empathic bond between participant dyads.  I hypothesize that manipulation of the MNS through socially mirrored actions will increase cognitive empathy and cause a reduction of the FAE.  Theorists have proposed that there are two types of empathy (cognitive and emotional), and previous research is equivocal about what type of empathy the MNS is most related to. The purposed study, will evaluate the influence of socially mirrored actions on both emotional and cognitive empathy. “

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