Botox reduces empathy

Over a year ago I posted “Body language and the B problem” and also about some research by psychologists at Wisconsin-Madison University. They were looking at the effect of Botox on interpersonal relationships.

Their research suggested that if you had a Botox treatment your inability to show appropriate emotions, especially sadness or empathy, would be interpreted as a lack of sympathy or interest. More interestingly it said it might actually slow down your own empathetic response.

Now Research at Duke University Fuqua School of Business in North Carolina has confirmed that as well as reducing frown lines Botox reduces a person’s ability to empathise with others. This is important for everyday interactions, particularly at work where we spend most of our time.

Empathy is a key component of emotional intelligence as is managing your emotions but it seems Botox would make you appear to be over-controlling your emotions or that you are lacking in empathy. Already researchers are saying that Generation Me students are 40% less empathetic than they were 20 to 30 years ago.

The Duke University researchers talk about embedded cognition, which is the idea that our bodies reflect the way we think and feel. For example if you see someone in pain you wince and that sends a message to your brain about the pain. (This sounds a bit like the idea of mirror neurons). NB I suspect that this wouldn’t work if you were a psychopath.

The researchers were initially interested in the effect of Botox on romantic relationships and the effect on that when one person has been treated with Botox and becomes less empathetic.

Also the idea that long-married couples start to look alike because they have been copying each other’s facial expressions for so long. (Could the same apply to people who start looking like their pets?)

btw if you are interested in having Botox the trend now is to have preventative Botox before you actually develop any frown lines!

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