Minding the Empathy Gap: How Insights into Brains and Behaviors are Placating Polarization

The One America Movement is a nonprofit, bridge-building organization founded after the 2016 presidential election. The organization is committed to combating toxic polarization all over the country. On January 27, 2019, One America organized a meeting in South Jordan, Utah in which Latter-day Saints and Jews came together to foster empathy for the other faith. This thesis reports on the interfaith event and explores the science behind it and other conflict resolution strategies. Touching on neuroscience and social psychology, this thesis addresses how we come to define empathy, why and when we fail to express it, and how we can hope to recoup it.


About Diego Arenas

After countless hours indulging in science podcasts while toiling away at his own experiments at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Diego cannot believe it took him so long to realize he wanted to take part in creating the types of programs that he so often relished. Conducting research confirmed the passion for science Diego nurtured as a Cell and Molecular Biology major at Cornell University, but it was the wait time between experimental steps that led to the biggest personal breakthroughs. In the quiet sanctuary behind the sterile walls of the laboratory, Diego found he was most excited about learning science and devising creative ways to share what he learned with a variety of audiences. As a first-generation immigrant from Colombia, Diego understands the importance of spreading information for the progress of societies and the individuals they comprise. He has started sharpening his abilities as a science communicator through his work at the American Institutes for Research by developing assessment items that align to the Next Generation of Science Standards. He looks forward to honing his skills at MIT and exploring different forms of multimedia to find his niche within the field. In his spare time, Diego is either binging the latest television series, crafting a new project, or running to his current music obsession. Thesis: Minding the Empathy Gap: How Insights into Brains and Behaviors are Placating Polarization




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