Empathy is complicated. It’s both abstract but intuitive and even natural for most people. It can be defined in a few ways, but it’s usually described as the capacity to understand another human’s situation, emotion, or point of view without experiencing it yourself.
Scientists don’t completely understand why people empathize, but there are apparent benefits to empathizing.
Empathy allows us to create emotional bridges, boosting compassion and the ability to help.
Research shows that some people will sometimes avoid empathizing because it requires too much mental effort, feeling cognitively costly to bear somebody else’s emotional load.
However, more recent research, published Thursday in the journal NeuroImage: Clinical says that empathy is particularly tricky if you’re a heavy drinker.
Scientists from the University of Sussex showed proved that the brains of binge drinkers require more effort into feeling empathy for others compared to those who don’t binge drink.
In the study, binge drinking referred to drinking over 60 grams of pure alcohol during a single sitting at least once a month. That is approximately three-quarters of a bottle of wine, about 2.5 pints of lager.
The discovery comes at a time when empathy is arguably too needed for us to function as individuals. Unfortunately, the ongoing pandemic increased the worldwide alcohol intake, which, according to the study, would translate to a general decrease of empathy.
Evolution Of Alcohol Sales And Effects
At the beginning of the pandemic, alcohol sales were labeled as essential, leading to a jump in sales in March compared to the past year.
Researchers analyzing drinking patterns and habits say that it’s too soon to determine the effects of pandemic binge drinking. A recent survey of over 300 adult Canadian drinkers revealed that people use alcohol to deal with the ongoing pandemic.
Increased alcohol intake, solitary drinking, and challenging times are often leading to “alcohol problems” over 30 days.