NEW YORK - Bill Clinton said he felt others' pain. But a new brain-scanning study suggests that when guys see a cheater get a mild electric shock, they don't feel his pain much at all. In fact, they rather enjoy it.
In contrast, women's brains showed they do empathize with the cheater's pain and don't get a kick out it.
During the brain scans, each volunteer watched as the hands of a "fair" player and a cheater received a mild electrical shock. When it came to the fair-player, both men's and women's brains showed activation in pain-related areas, indicating that they empathized with that player's pain.
But for the cheater, while the women's brains still showed a response, men's brains showed virtually no specific reaction. Also, in another brain area associated with feelings of reward, men's brains showed a greater average response to the cheater's shock than to the fair player's shock, while women's brains did not.
A questionnaire revealed that the men expressed a stronger desire than women did for revenge against the cheater. The more a man said he wanted revenge, the higher his jump in the brain's reward area when the cheater got a shock. No such correlation showed up in women.
This brings up a lot of topics for discussion. For instance, should juries be composed only of men, since the women may be less inclined to appropriately punish the guilty? Should female judges handle criminal trials? Are female lawyers better suited for defense work than prosecution? Finally, does it tell us something more about the former president that he "felt our pain?"
This should generate an interesting set of comments.